Grenfell Tower inquiry: Man trapped in burning building 'told his sister-in-law he was at work to stop her worrying'
At 2am the dying man also called his colleagues at Marks & Spencer and reportedly left a message to let them know he was not going to come into work
A man trapped in Grenfell Tower as it burned told his sister-in-law he was at work to stop her from worrying about him, she has told the inquiry into the disaster.
Bassem Choucair, 40, later died on the 22nd floor of the high-rise alongside his mother-in-law Sirra Choucair, 60, his wife, Nadia Choucair, 33, and his children, Mierna, 13, Fatima, 11, and Zaynab, three.
Sawson Choucair – who lived opposite her sister, brother-in-law and nieces with her 60-year-old mother – told the inquiry she was staying with a friend on the night of the blaze.
In a written statement, Ms Choucair said she was devastated by the loss of six members of her family and was haunted by the memory of standing outside the building as her loved ones burnt to death.
She learned Grenfell Tower was on fire when a friend sent her a text message at around 3am on 14 June last year and rushed to the west Kensington tower block, while attempting to reach her family by telephone.
“I eventually got through to Bassem and told him there was a fire in the tower,” Ms Choucair said.
“He replied that he wasn’t in the tower as he was at work. He told me not to worry."
She added: “I now know that this was not true and that he was in the tower, but I think he didn’t want to upset me.”
Bassem, who worked at Marks & Spencer, reportedly left a message with his colleagues to let them know he was not going to come into work shortly before 2am.
In the message he said there was a fire in his building and apologised for “letting you down”.
Ms Choucair said that since the blaze she had heard recordings of the 999 calls made by her family.
“I could hear my nieces in the background crying and someone comforting them, telling them not to worry as they would be OK and all die together not alone,” she said.
“The last words recorded of my family in their dying moments on the telephone will stay with me forever.
“To hear an adult trying to explain to a child that they are going to die but not to worry is horrific.”
Ms Choucair explained how she had been traumatised by the experience.
“Luckily, for me I was not at home at the time of the fire but as I have said I had to stand helplessly as I saw my home with my family in it burn, killing every one of them,” she said.
“As such I did not suffer physical burns and injuries that can be seen. Instead, I have been ripped apart inside and feel that I am nothing but an empty shell, with no life left inside.”
The public inquiry is in its first phase at Holborn Bars in central London, and is hearing evidence from survivors of the fire.