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BBC News: Neasden Fire

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Mother and five children killed in Neasden house fire

A mother and five of her children have been killed in a house fire in north-west London.

Muna Elmufatish, 41, and her daughters Hanin Kua, 14, Basma, 13 and Amal, nine, died in the blaze with her sons Mustafa, five, and Yehya, aged two.

Her husband, Bassam Kua, 51, and another daughter Nur, 16, are in a critical condition following the fire in Neasden early on Saturday morning.

Police said they are not treating the deaths as suspicious.

Flames tore through the semi-detached house in Sonia Gardens as six fire engines and 30 firefighters tackled the blaze at about 01:00 BST.


'Like a bomb'

One neighbour said he heard a loud bang from the home of the family who are thought to be Palestinian, which sounded "like an explosion, almost like a bomb".

He added: "We all went outside and we saw firemen looking out the window and shouting, 'there's people in there'. It was horrific."

LFB station manager Glen Gorman, who was at the scene, said: "There's no doubt this is an absolute tragedy.

Chief Supt Matthew Gardner: 'Thorough and painstaking investigation' taking place

"My thoughts, and those of my colleagues at the London Fire Brigade, are with the friends, family and loved ones of those affected at this extremely sad and difficult time."

He added: "Crews worked extremely hard in some very, very, difficult conditions and were able to prevent fire spreading to adjoining properties and causing further injuries or even further tragedy."

Chief Supt Matthew Gardner said: "Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the friends and family of the victims, who are now having to come to terms with this terrible loss of life."

A London Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: "We sent the air ambulance, a doctor in a car, four ambulance crews and a hazardous area response team.

"Sadly four youngsters and an adult were dead at the scene.


Silence observed

"Our staff treated a five-year-old boy in cardiac arrest but despite extensive efforts they were unable to resuscitate him."

BBC correspondent Ben Ando said from the scene that the local community had been profoundly shocked by the deaths.

London Assembly member Navin Shah said his condolences were with the family whose childen attended schools in the area.

Chief Supt Gardner said local officers were conducting "reassurance patrols" and would be working with the local authority and fire brigade, as well as local schools in the coming days.

Firefighters from Willesden, West Hampstead, North Kensington and Park Royal fire stations were at the scene of the blaze.

They were alerted at 00:50 BST and the fire was under control by 02:50 BST but the ground and first floors of the house were badly damaged.

A minute's silence for those who died was held at 17:30 BST by fire crews from across the UK who are attending a firefighters' event in east London.

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24th September 2011