Muslims observing Ramadan ‘saved lives in London tower blaze’

1 / 4
A woman comforts a boy after a tower block was severly damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 14, 2017. (Reuters)
2 / 4
Reception centres, such as these at the Latymer Christian Centre and Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in north Kensington, along with other locations in the area, have been receiving donations of food, drinks, blankets and clothing all day
3 / 4
Reception centres, such as these at the Latymer Christian Centre and Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in north Kensington, along with other locations in the area, have been receiving donations of food, drinks, blankets and clothing all day
4 / 4
Reception centres, such as these at the Latymer Christian Centre and Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in north Kensington, along with other locations in the area, have been receiving donations of food, drinks, blankets and clothing all day
Updated 14 June 2017

Muslims observing Ramadan ‘saved lives in London tower blaze’

DUBAI: Muslims living in — and near — the London tower gutted by a massive blaze early this morning were among the hero residents who saved lives, because they were awake eating suhoor.

Many residents banged on doors of sleeping neighbors and guided them to safety as the fire started to take hold of Grenfell tower, filling corridors with thick smoke, eyewitness said.

Muslims were among some of the first to notice the smoke and were able to alert neighbors, according to reports from the scene.

One Somali man told Arab News that many lives had been saved due to the hours people keep during Ramadan. 
 
“The fast saved a lot of people, as they were... up preparing to eat before sunrise,” he said. “It saved them.”
 
Safia, a Sudanese mother who lives locally, said that residents were still awake ahead of the daylight fast.
 
“People were up… I heard somebody (wanting to rescue) their kids... a Muslim man gave him the key (to the building) to help get the kids,” she told Arab News. “We helped people out in the morning.”
 
The eyewitness said that many Somalians, Sudanese and Moroccans live in the area. “I lost two family members in there, an elderly lady and children, they are all Muslims,” she said.
 
Safia also claimed that access to the blazing building was a problem for rescue crews, and raised concerns over the fire-safety standards.
 
“There was no fire alarm,” she said. “Access is a huge problem… The fire engines can’t break through. My friend called me and said they broke some barrier to access (the building).”
 
One woman identifying herself as Rashida told Sky News that many local Muslims would have still been awake as they observed Ramadan.

“Most Muslims now observing Ramadan will normally not go to bed until about 2 a.m. maybe 2:30 a.m.,” Rashida explained. “Until they have their late night last meal. They do their last prayer.

“So most of the families around here would have been awake and I think even with the noise with the helicopters, it would have brought a lot of attention to a lot of residents non-Muslim as well that would have thought something’s going on that’s not quite normal.”

She explained that the West London community, where the vast residential tower is, was “tightly-knit,” like many areas of the British capital, and had a particularly large Moroccan population.

“It’s a very diverse area, we have all nationalities, all religions… We all live peacefully among each other, there is not much crime higher than anywhere else,” she explained.
Rashida said people were generally able to walk around safely late at night, because “we all know each other.”

Speaking to the website, BuzzFeed, Nadia Yousuf, 29, said Muslim residents were some of the first people to spot the blaze, because they had woken for suhoor.
“They saw it just after they woke up to eat,” she said.


Samoa shuts schools, declares emergency as measles kills 6

Updated 6 min 52 sec ago

Samoa shuts schools, declares emergency as measles kills 6

  • Schools were closed from Monday after the government declared an emergency on Saturday
  • The National University of Samoa told students to stay home and said exams scheduled for this week had been indefinitely postponed

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: Samoa has closed all its schools, banned children from public gatherings and mandated that everybody get vaccinated after declaring an emergency due to a measles outbreak that has so far killed six people.

For the past three weeks, the Pacific island nation of 200,000 people has been in the grip of a measles epidemic that has been exacerbated by low immunization rates.

Schools were closed from Monday after the government declared an emergency on Saturday. The National University of Samoa also told students to stay home and said exams scheduled for this week had been indefinitely postponed.

Health authorities said most of those who died were under the age of 2. They counted 716 measles cases reported, with nearly 100 people still hospitalized including 15 in intensive care.

Samoa’s Director General of Health Leausa Take Naseri said in a news conference last week that he expects the epidemic will get worse. He said that only about two-thirds of Samoans had been vaccinated, leaving the others vulnerable to the virus.

But figures from the World Health Organization and UNICEF indicate that measles immunization rates among Samoan infants have fallen steeply from over 70 percent in 2013 to under 30 percent last year.

Helen Petousis-Harris, a vaccine expert at New Zealand’s University of Auckland, said the Samoan government halted its immunization program for several months last year after two infants died from a medical mishap involving a vaccine.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday it was sending 3,000 vaccines to Samoa as well as nurses and medical supplies.
Ardern said Samoan authorities believe the outbreak was started by a traveler from New Zealand.

“We, of course, have an open flow of people,” Ardern said. “But we see our responsibility as supporting Samoa as they deal with the outbreak, and we are doing that actively.”

Petousis-Harris said it was disappointing that people in New Zealand who were carrying the virus had traveled to Samoa. She said New Zealand has for years known it has immunity gaps.

“But we didn’t deal with the problem,” she said.

Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand have also reported outbreaks of measles but on a smaller scale than in Samoa.