Four weeks after Grenfell, Newsnight finds the first evidence of cyanide poisoning among survivors. Plus why do so many not believe the official number of dead?
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Tonight, four weeks after Grenfell burned, Newsnight has established
the first evidence of cyanide poisoning amongst
We hear new testimony of a family's escape
And the agony of losing their unborn child.
As it settled on my body, obviously everything goes to the baby.
The amount that he received, it was obviously enough
Nazreen Aklani lost her mother and her aunt in the fire,
both are missing and presumed to have died.
Four weeks on - has anyone helped her get the answers that she seeks?
And why are survivors so unwilling to believe
what the authorities tell them - especially about the
I was speaking to a friend of mine last week and they said that he's
We go in search of evidence that the official death count
is wrong and ask why so many doubt it.
I said, we've got social media out here.
We'll ask two London politicians if it's possible to end
Four weeks after the inferno, the charred carcass
of Grenfell Tower looms over North Kensington like
a malevolent machine, casting still darkening shadows over
But as the political debates continue and the parameters
of the official enquiry are slowly established, there is perhaps
a danger of losing sight of the myriad human
For example, the youngest victim of the fire, who was yet to be born.
Andreia Gomes was seven months pregnant and had already
named her unborn son-to-be Logan when, with her husband
and their two daughters, she escaped from the 21st floor
The baby growing inside her did not survive.
And tonight, we learn that Andreia and her husband
Marcio's eldest child, the 12 year old Luana,
received a diagnosis of cyanide poisoning -
the first to be recorded among the survivors.
They have been telling their story for the first time
A warning - some people may find it upsetting.
We didn't use soft words, we didn't say
that her baby brother was
sleeping with the angels, sleeping as everybody does every night.
We said Logan died and these are the reasons Logan died.
The Gomes family lived on the 21st floor of Grenfell
Next month they should have been celebrating the birth of their
son, anticipated with much excitement by his older sisters.
We were making plans, he can sleep with me,
floor and I'm going to play with him, they were very excited and we'd
Instead, their home is gone and their son,
who they had already named Logan, was delivered stillborn by Caesarean
section as his mother and sisters lay in induced comas in hospital.
I knew something was wrong straightaway when they took the
mother as a priority, so I broke down.
And then later on they said that the baby had passed
They can't say 100%, but they said that the heart couldn't cope
with the lack of oxygen, the baby didn't get,
so they have done a full autopsy including toxins to see
exactly what caused the baby's death.
They said that they believed the poison went in and settled on my
body, and everything goes to the baby.
Especially, seven months is when the lungs of the baby starts to
The amount that he received, it was obviously enough to
There has been speculation in the four weeks since
the fire about what toxins may have been released as the building
The family allowed Newsnight to film their discharge papers from
Their 12-year-old daughter's diagnosis
Her mother and sister were also treated
This is the first confirmation of a cyanide
poisoning diagnosis as a result of the Grenfell fire.
It is believed to be from the insulation.
I imagine it would be from the plastics that
were melted and burning, but the smoke was certainly,
you know, so intense, as soon as you got a mouthful, you
were gagging, you were constantly gagging on the way down.
I can't imagine what my daughters were going
through at the time and I'm sure you were gagging as well.
You were always having the gag reflex, it was that
This was the family's flat where they sheltered, unable to
They had been advised that firefighters would rescue them but
two hours and up to five emergency calls later, just before 4am,
The curtains were on fire, the Moses basket was
on fire, that side of the window was on fire.
I looked at the window and thought it must have cracked.
Everything was fine so I knew that the fire came in between the
There were a lot of gaps because of the insulation they
The only thing I could do was literally grab the door,
and then I looked and said we have to go now,
there's no turning back, we have to try.
I was holding the rail and I kept shouting, keep going,
keep going downstairs, try and give them as
At one point my daughter replied to me
I realised she must have let go of the rail.
I turned round, stopped, I turned around and said
I'm waiting for you, follow my voice, I kept shouting to them.
I kept climbing the stairs and she said, I can't, I can't, and she
The smoke was so heavy, you couldn't see anything
that was there, so I was shouting to them, waiting.
Thankfully at that moment I looked down and there was a
light coming up and it was a fireman.
They were rescued but the delay on the staircase meant that he
had lost Andreia and their younger daughter.
I said I needed to go back and see where my wife is and
the policeman said, I'm not promising anything
I relaxed a bit at that point and then the other one
said, is your daughter's name, Megan?
I said I was good because they had got out.
An ambulance took the family to hospital where the
Did you know immediately that you had lost your son? Or did you have
to tell Andreia? Before she got brought out of
the coma, moving a little bit, very I was talking to her and the first
thing she did was to try and put her hand on her stomach
and said, I'm sorry. The family have nothing
but praise for the support they've received from the NHS,
firefighters and friends. As for those who decided
to cut costs on I'm very angry with
them because it could That's where the anger
really stems from. Yes, it was an accident,
I'm sure, but it It shouldn't have
happened like this. The residents never wanted
the cladding in the first place. When you go ahead
knowing that something could happen and they ignored that,
this is me, personally, I feel that I don't know if is
the right word, but you just killed so many people
and you just killed my son. In a normal situation
I could have gone out, he was seven months, he
could have survived. But because of their
conditions, he... Andreia and Marcio Gomes
talking to Katie Razzall It is worth stressing that we do not
know where the cyanide came from, whether it was plastics from inside
the building or the insulation. Sadly, neither the Government
nor council were able Her mother Sakineh
lived on the 18th floor On the night of the tragedy
she was being visited by her sister, Nazreen's aunt Fatimeh,
and both women described the unfolding horror
on the telephone to family members Presumed but not yet confirmed dead,
the uncertainty surrounding their situation is also
being endured by many other grieving families and their continuing pain
is exacerbated by a lingering suspicion that the authorities
are still being less I am so sorry for your loss and
thank you for joining us. One would presume that four weeks after the
tragedy, you had find out rather more than what you have about what
happened to her mother and your aunt, is that the case? We know more
in terms of meeting other victims and we have approached them, we have
found things out for ourselves and... No, it has taken so long for
the numbers to reach 80. The next day the numbers of dead were nine.
We always knew it was more and we still know it is more, that is no
information for us. It is things that we assumed. You mentioned
dealing chiefly with other survivors and grieving families, what lines of
communication do you have with what you describe as the authorities? We
have very little communication, we have been given a key worker and we
have had to run around so much. We were given a family liaison officer
by the police quite quickly. And through them we were promised to
have a key worker which puts us in touch with the council and they are
supposed to help us, introduce us to things that are available and
everything. And it took so long to have one of those in place. We
literally had to chase the officers to be able to find out who that
actually is and once in place, a number of phone calls we have had to
make chasing her up, I would rather have called the places myself and
have everything done. We find out through other means and had to put
it to her, there has not been much communication. What is it you are
mostly trying to establish that you have been unable to? One of the main
things we have been trying to do and I know my brother sorted out the
Housing for my disabled brother and we have been trying to sort that
provisionally ourselves because there was no key worker and when she
came in she took over and did nothing with it and we had to ring
her and remind her, the MP as short as this would get done. She called
us one week later to say the council has refused everything and when we
asked for her to put us in touch with the manager that took that
decision, she spoke to my brother, I believe today or yesterday, to say
the manager is going on annual leave and she left it as that without
telling us who else would be in charge. Which I find quite shocking,
so many people traumatised and going through this tragedy, not just
myself but everybody, and the managers and the council say that it
is OK to continue with annual leave. You say not yourself but you still
do not know for sure what happened to your mother? No. My brother was
on the phone to them, we know they went to the 23rd floor and we know
they died there because... Do you understand by the authorities have
been unable to definitively confirm that to you? Yes, they let them burn
for too long. You know... What is more horrendous than getting burned
alive? You ask yourself, is there anything worse? I am afraid there
is... Having no remains and yes, it has taken so long because they
failed to put out the fire when they should have. When I went to that
site in the morning, we were there all day, there was still fire inside
the building, the next day, 24 hours later. And because of that, yes, it
is hard for them to tell us what has happened to my mother and my auntie
because they have been so burned that the coroner defines them as
calcified, there was no organic matter in the bones for them to be
DNA tested. And I do not know who took the decision to decide that
they did not need to fight the fire any more. I do not know why somebody
who was responsible for that far decided it was OK to stop fighting
it and let everything else burn. Because... That decision has cost us
the remains of our family. That we could have had. And I see that as a
criminal offence. That should be investigated.
You have no remains to bury. We have no remains, since the first day, we
told our family liaison officer that we want to have a video of the
coroner's search. They said, we think this is part of their work
anyway. The victims' meeting at Olympia, we were told there was no
video. We have taken pictures. Commander Cundy said yes, we will
get these pictures out to the families because we are very keen on
them, it is our right. Just like everything else, it was a waste of
time, time we could have spent grieving. We weren't given the
pictures as they promised, they said they would get them to us
immediately. We have been denied everything. I have no idea what's
out there. For all my no, they could be in one piece. I should stress
that there is an open invitation for the Council or central government to
address many of the questions that are continuing to be thrown up by
this awful, all full tragedy. Thank you for joining us.
I spent several hours at the scene today and almost
everyone I spoke to, from the local MP to the manager
of the Maxilla social club that sits in Grenfell's shadow,
told me that the official response to the tragedy remains inadequate
It is perhaps unsurprising that this perceived absence of accountability
and authority has fostered an environment in which suspicion
and mistrust have been allowed to fester.
Tonight - a vigil for those that died took place at the tower.
From the death toll itself, which currently officially stands
at 80, to the efforts to rehouse survivors, many report a deep
And it is a distrust which could ultimately hamper any
inquiry that requires the cooperation of a community
profoundly sceptical about almost everything they are being told.
So many questions about Grenfell hang in the air.
The definitive answers are many months away.
The public inquiry hasn't even decided
its terms of reference yet, which questions it will investigate.
I was here covering the fire on the day
and have followed the story ever since.
And one thing that has made Grenfell seem very different to me,
feel different from a lot of other similar disasters is how widespread
and how strong is the view that the authorities are lying to us
At the heart of this view is the question of how
That number is established by the police.
But is it really more than that, and if so,
are the police, the government, the Fire Service and the media all
colluding in a cover-up to downplay this disaster's true death toll?
If you're not going to report the right numbers, there's no
There's no point you being here because all
I and many of my colleagues have had encounters like this one.
People throwing their children out of the
You can see first hand there's more than 58 missing posters
The media, seen as in collusion with the
powerful who want to suppress the truth.
We've got social media, we've got social media out here, we don't
Rumours become hardened into fact, despite
I've got a friend who works for the fire brigade here.
Yesterday on the phone he said they found about 42
It's only because we know him, he's a fireman,
This Facebook video that alleges that 42 bodies were
found in one flat has been seen by more people than the nightly
audience for BBC and ITV's main bulletins put
A claim that then finds its way into the mouth of a
The 79 figure that has stood for a week does not accord
with those who lived down there and say
that the survivors, there is a
In one flat alone, people say there were up to 40 people gathered,
because they had gathered there, it was Ramadan.
In the cold shadow of Grenfell Tower I met Virginia Sang.
She lives in one of the three blocks of maisonettes that radiate
She has lived there since she was a child.
The official figure is 80 at the moment, dead or missing.
I was told Sunday after the fire it was 200 and
Right, and that rings true to you, it is more
Yeah but I was speaking to a friend who said he has been told
Well, we don't know, I'm praying it's not.
We don't think they new how many people lived in the tower, because
the tower was very overcrowded, so they don't have the correct number
for how many people was living there.
Do you think there were many people who weren't on the books?
But despite investigating these claims, Newsnight has so far found
no evidence that such large numbers were in the tower.
To calculate the total number in Grenfell that night
we need to know the number of people who escaped.
The police say it was 255 and add the number of missing
The police say the number is 80, implying a total of 335
All the people you can see on these posters
are accounted for in some way, they are either
officially confirmed as
So if there were many other people, dozens, even hundreds of other
victims of the Grenfell fire, where is the evidence, where are the
people looking for them, where are the neighbours, the friends and
Unless they were so anonymous that nobody knew they were
As for the argument that 100 or more undocumented
migrants were living in the tower unknown
to the authorities, the
police have detailed lists for who was living
the block, so where were these extra people supposedly living?
Official figures from the police are that 80
18 are from the 106 flats where the police have
The remaining 62 are from 23 higher flats where the police have been
The police have said they have not discovered a flat containing 42
Identifying, even numbering victims is a huge and slow
30 years ago, 31 people were killed in a fire at King's
Cross Station and it took months to identify some of the victims.
It is a grisly truth that in a high temperature,
long burning fire like Grenfell, very little human evidence
The upper floors of Grenfell became effectively a crematorium, the
temperature must have been 2000 Celsius.
A crematorium is a roundabout 1600 Celsius so what
would be left is not an identifiable body but fragments of bone and ash
To identify a body we need not just the teeth and
get DNA from that body, we need to have something to compare it with
Independent groups and organisations try
to put together lists of the
dead and missing have not identified the scores or hundreds of missing
victims that some believe died in the blaze.
Without having access to the police's data, the BBC has
managed to identify 72 of the 80 people
An unchecked crowd sourced database has come up with 83 names.
We have completely failed to find any evidence to support the idea
that a real number of casualties from the Grenfell fire is
significantly different from the numbers that the police
That leads to a rather obvious question.
Why are so many so determined to believe that the
One factor is certainly the lack of trust in any of the institutions
We know, for example, that Grenfell residents tried to raise fire
safety concerns for years but felt ignored.
Many in social housing complained of unresponsive, uncaring
Especially in central London, where they suspect the councils
would rather sell off valuable sites to developers.
She said something like, I have put wet towels under
the door and I am just really scared.
Rizwan Hussain lost a friend and fellow activist in
He is sceptical of conspiracies but understands how
In regards to the local authority, I think there was just a lack of
answers coming from them, there was a lack of representation.
Everything on the ground was basically community-led.
People were asking the question, where are the local authorities and
Where is the organised system in place of
And that didn't happen until a few days after.
Questions about numbers and where people are,
who people are, because they are not being answered, there is a sort of
And that suspicion extends to the people that
used to be trusted to report tragedies like Grenfell.
Now, the media is seen by some as peddling
In collusion with the powerful to mislead and
Do you have have a lot more faith in the people you talk to around
More than the authorities or even the media, to explain?
Yes, because we understand what we're
going through, we are the ones going through it.
And we understand it because we're all very close.
Or put on what they want to see or what they
We have had no trust in the council for years.
So that has made us even worse than what we were.
Do you simply not trust us to tell the truth?
I have seen some things that they have shown and
A human tragedy of this scale touches so many
lives in ways that can never be recorded in official statistics.
What is clear is that no appeal to the facts as explained and
interpreted by authority figures and established media will do much
to reform the strongly held opinions that swirl around this disaster.
Sian Berry is a Chair of the Housing Committee
And Shaun Bailey is a Conservative Party member of London's Assembly.
He grew up close to Grenfell - in the borough of
It would seem there has been an epic breakdown of public trust or an epic
escalation. Do you think this dispute over the death toll is a
symptom or a cause? I think it is a symptom, it has to be said there was
a lack of information about the death toll and one thing the police
normally do in cases like this is put out an estimate of who they
think was in the incident and how many people might have survived and
those key pieces of information were not given by the police for a very
long time, they would only give that number so it is understandable there
would be scepticism. I challenge the Mayor and the police and this week
for the first time they have put out those numbers and we can have a
debate, the police think there were 350 people inside and locals might
have different views and before there was nothing to talk about
because the police had not given those numbers. It is very important
that is clear. In terms of general mistrust, I was called there, myself
and Sean are London wide Assembly Members, representing everybody who
needs our help and I was asked to come down five days in London are
required to help get some practical things done. Largely for the wider
community rather than people who had been evacuated, people still in the
area, feeling besieged by the media, wondering where any support might
be. An absolute lack of information about things like road closures,
whether even the school would be open. There was nothing for people
and I think you saw that day when you doing everything, there was no
information. And it is still not much better and I am still getting
messages from people every day, I have had to go back three or four
times, there is something very broken there and people are still
fending for themselves. This is a vacuum into which volunteers have
moved and in many ways continue to bear the brunt of front-line service
that the residents expected to be provided by the council. In the
continuing absence of the council, it took the former head 80 days to
effectively show his face in public before resigning. The continuing
absence on the ground of the council, how can these people be
expected to place faith in the council that they perceive as
letting them down badly? They simply will not, I lived there for a very
long time, my friends and family out there, the reaction of the community
does not surprise me, they have always been reactive, we look after
our own, the council failed by not giving this a human face and saying
we are responsible for putting this right, I understand they are scared
of litigation. Do you understand the scepticism about the numbers? I do
not buy into the conspiracies but I fully understand why and where that
is coming from. If you look at social housing, many people across
London are under different leadership, Labour and Conservative
and whatever, they feel social housing is inflicted upon them, they
have no say, it is not explained why it works the way it does and does
things have built up over years. Our community is told its Muslim members
are terrorists and the young black men are criminals so they hold out
to people who do not try to understand them. The council have
built up quite a good reputation, they did a lot of work on the
ground, that has been trashed by a very poor response to this. The new
council leader has a very steep hill to climb. Some residents would
dispute your notion that there was much in place to trashed. We are
familiar with the action group's blog that warrant and predicted. You
had a community on the ground that the council would largely work with
a mini youth groups etc, but when it comes to social housing, which
affects a much larger group of people in the area, the council were
too distant, they have moved away. Do you understand how that has
happened? Yes, as a country we do not punish those in high places and
what happens, when I speak to young people, they say, I bet you nobody
gets in trouble for this. And there is a very serious thing that can be
done, the enquiry, the terms, how the Yoko -- local people... It is
important someone explains to them what that enquiry means, you have to
manage expectations right now because if not, you will never
rebuild the trust. This is an important moment. The enquiry will
fail without this trust? This is an important moment for the political
establishment to start rebuilding trust. Do you have optimism that
that can happen? Against a backdrop that is almost unspeakably big? Yes,
local people are organising, trying their best but they are not being
given resources and we need a complete reconfiguration of
democracy there. ?300 million in Chelsea's back. Why not give that to
voluntary groups to get on with what needs doing? We have seen three
changes of leadership, of who is running the relief organisation and
we are waiting for things to get sorted out, if those organisations
and charities had the funding... It is not just about funding. In the
short term. It is about disaster response, hand on heart, other
council leaders across the country, can they say they would respond
better? Probably not. You need a group of people seen enough to make
decisions on the ground, anybody directly affected should not find
things out in the media, they should be contacted directly and first. And
that is not happening. Without that response and team and the seniority
to deliver, you will always disappoint the local people. Many
thanks to both of you for your time. The Government - in the shape
of the Deputy Prime Minister in all but name, Damian Green -
said today that it was likely that we'll get a good deal with the EU
and the chances of there being no deal at all is
"probably overstated." But in tonight's Viewsnight,
David Cameron's former advisor, Julian Glover, urges them to get
on with it. On the issue of that deal -
or no deal - with the EU, there are two particular issues that
may need urgent attention. First, the UK's scheduled
withdrawal from membership of the European nuclear regulator,
Euratom, about which the medical and scientific communities have
expressed grave concern. And - separately -
we heard warnings today from Ryanair that all fights to the continent
could be grounded if we don't get an air transport
agreement in place sharpish. Our Political Editor,
Nick Watt and our Business Editor, Helen Thomas have been looking
into both of these matters. I will begin with Nick Watt. What do
we know about the Euratom situation? The government is facing the
prospect of its first major Brexit rebellion over plans to pull out of
that treaty. I have learned the government is planning to negotiate
a form of associate membership of that treaty. It is not technically
an EU treaty but it is overseen by the European Court of Justice. I
understand this movement by the government will be enough to satisfy
some of the Tory rebels. They believe that associate membership
could be happy halfway house that could set precedent for a half in,
half out future relationship with the EU and they except the UK cannot
go back into Euratom as a full member because advice from UK and EU
lawyers is cleared- if you leave the EU, you have to leave Euratom, even
though it is not technically an EU treaty. We might have to wait for
this to be announced, the government will set out its position paper on
Euratom but that will be general and the rebels will hold back for the
moment. And some news on that Repeal Bill? Labour have announced this
evening but unless that will is amended, they will vote against it
at its second reading in early September. Keir Starmer, the Shadow
Brexit Secretary, says that Bill allows the government to record too
much power and mirrors what he described as flawed approach on the
European Court of Justice. If Labour votes against it, it will not
necessarily stop the bill in its tracks because potential Tory rebels
would not vote against it at the second reading but it will embolden
them to amend it with Labour further down the line and ministers are not
happy, they say, do not reverse the will of the people. Many thanks.
Helen, what did Michael O'Leary have to say? Classic Michael O'Leary, he
was in the European Parliament, time to do with reality, flights. After
Brexit, Ryanair would shift their craft, we will have to holiday in
Scotland or Ireland. You get the idea. The single market and aviation
allows airlines to fly freely in Europe and is no fallback option so
you need a new agreement and his view is this will not happen because
of the red lines put around negotiations by the government and
that is debatable. What is truth is airlines sell seats about one year
in advance so you need to get a move on. You say classic Michael O'Leary,
is airlines sell seats about one year in advance so you need to get a
move on. You say classic Michael O'Leary, busy flying solo? I have
spoken to several industry types and they are overwhelmingly confident
there will be a deal, Willie Walsh, the boss of the owner of British
Airways says he thought it would be relatively straightforward. The
reasoning, governments on both sides and airlines on both sides want to
deal, otherwise everybody loses, tourism, trade and business. There
are compensations, a basic bilateral deal preserves UK to Europe flights
and vice versa but not necessarily easy jet flying around Europe.
Ownership is a problem because current rules require you to be a
majority EU owned. Ultimately, the industry thinks we will get a deal
because it would be unimaginable chaos without that. Thank you both
very much indeed. We just had to leave you with this
piece of surreal theatre from Perhaps by repeating it we're just
proving the author's point, but here's the actor Andy Serkis,
who plays Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, reading out
Donald Trump's Twitter feed. AS GOLLUM: The fake news media has
never been so wrong... Purposefully incorrect
stories and funny sources. We had a beautiful day
across the UK today, just a bit of fairweather cloud
here and there. Tonight, clear skies
and there is raw chill on way,