First Confirmed Victim in London Is a Syrian Refugee
23-year-old student Mohammad al-Haj Ali fled Syria in 2014
By Josh Rosenblatt,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2017 1:27 PM CDT
Firemen search through debris at Grenfell Towers on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

(Newser) – The first victim identified in the Grenfell Tower fire in London has a poignant back story: Mohammad al-Haj Ali is a 23-year-old refugee from Syria who fled the war-torn city of Daraa three years ago. According to the Telegraph, the civil engineering student at the University of West London was trapped in his apartment on the 14th floor of the 24-story building after getting separated from his older brother, Omar. His brother made it out of Grenfell and was being treated for smoke inhalation, but not Mohammad. "He survived Assad, he survived the war, only to be killed in a tower block in London," says a friend.

Officials have confirmed that 17 people have died so far in the massive blaze that consumed the public-housing tower Tuesday night, though, officials believe the death toll could rise into the hundreds. As for the reports that residents fruitlessly complained about fire safety concerns, the Guardian has some more specifics: Among other things, they complained about the placement of pipes and boilers, the absence of a fire-alarm or sprinkler system, and piles of trash in common areas.

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