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LONDON — The first victim to be named in the London high-rise apartment block fire was a refugee who fled the war in Syria to seek a better life in the British capital.
Mohammed Alhaj Ali was a first year engineering student at the University of West London, the institution confirmed in a statement to NBC News.
Ali lived on the fourteenth floor of the Grenfell Tower in northwest London, according to the Syria Solidarity Campaign, a U.K. activist group.
The student came to the U.K. in 2014. The Syria Solidarity Campaign said his dream was to one day return to Syria and rebuild his country.
“Mohammed undertook a dangerous journey to flee war and death in Syria, only to meet it here in the UK, in his own home,” said the group in a statement on Facebook.
“Mohammed came to this country for safety and the U.K. failed to protect him,” it added.
He was reportedly separated from his brother Omar when the pair tried to flee the burning tower block, the organisation said in the post.
Omar was rescued by firefighters, but Ali returned to his room where he reportedly spoke to a friend in Syria for two hours while he waited to be rescued, the organisation said.
Omar was reportedly found in hospital where he is said to be in a stable condition, according to the group.
The University of West London said they were aware that a number of their students live in or near to Grenfell Tower, some of whom have already been confirmed as safe.
They added that they were "shocked and saddened" to learn of Ali's death.
The tower block went up in flames early Wednesday in what London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton described as an "unprecedented incident."
Authorities said Thursday that at least 17 people were killed, while many others remained missing.