LONDON — Survivors of London's deadly Grenfell Tower fire wept Monday as they listened to a bereaved father pay tribute to his baby son and heard a recording of another victim making his last phone call from the burning building.
Those were among many heartbreaking moments on the first day of oral hearings at a public inquiry into the blaze, which killed 71 people in the social housing block in the night of June 14, 2017.
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The fire shocked Britain and led to an outpouring of anger over whether poor quality social housing and neglect by the authorities of a deprived, ethnically diverse community had played a part in the tragedy.
"We are now leaving this world, goodbye. I hope I haven't disappointed you."
Marcio Gomes, who fled from the 21st floor through thick, poisonous fumes with his pregnant wife, Andreia, and their two daughters, went first with an emotional tribute to his son, Logan, who was stillborn in hospital hours after the escape.
"I held my son in my arms, hoping it was all a bad dream, wishing, praying for a miracle, that he would open his eyes, move, make a sound," Gomes said, crying as he spoke with his wife by his side.
The inquiry also heard a recording of Afghan immigrant Mohamed Saber Neda calling a relative from the 24-story block.
"Goodbye. We are now leaving this world, goodbye. I hope I haven't disappointed you. Goodbye to all," Neda was heard saying in a calm voice in the voicemail message, as a photograph of him was shown on the screen.
Grenfell inquiry begins with a 72 second silence for each of the victims. One father describes losing his unborn son to the fire that changed so many lives, as @RagsMartel reports. pic.twitter.com/yqUwYvt2lG
Separately from the inquiry, the police are conducting a criminal investigation that could result in charges against organizations or individuals involved in the maintenance or refurbishment of the tower.
As of Monday, 139 out of the 210 Grenfell households in need of a new home had moved into temporary or permanent properties. The remainder were still in other forms of housing, including 15 households still in what is classed as emergency accommodation, according to figures from the local government.