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No escape plan for disabled residents at Grenfell Tower

Grenfell tower on fire
Grenfell tower on fire Image credit: independent.co.uk

A public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster has revealed disabled residents were not given an emergency evacuation plan.

The fire in June 2017 took the lives of 72 people, including 41 per cent of the building’s vulnerable adults.

One woman, who lived on the 20th floor, told the inquiry it took her 30 minutes to escape when the lifts became out of service.

Disabled people living in the 24-storey block said there were no plans put in place in emergency situations and their needs were not catered for when living in the building.

Connie Jones, who lived on the 17th floor said she had to carry her son, who has an autoimmune condition, on her back up and down the stairs when the lifts were not working.

The mother revealed she raised her concerns to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council months before the disaster but they gave their assurance the lifts would always be in operation.

Jones said it was not worth complaining to them or the Tenant Management Organisation who ran the building because they had never replied to any her past emails

Emma O’Connor told Tenant Management Organisation she had a disability when she moved in on the 20th floor in 2012, but they never discussed an evacuation plan if the building was on fire.

It took her 30 minutes to use the stairs if the lifts were out of order, in some cases she had to have family staying over until they were repaired.

She said Tenant Management Organisation were “rude” to residents, did not address complaints and only offered selective information about the refurbishment.

Giving evidence O’Connor said: "I don't think it's fair that these corporate companies were given the choice to choose what the price tag on our lives should be."

Mahboubeh Jamalvatan lived on the third floor. She said the organisation never gave her advice what to do in an emergency.

On the night of the fire she had to slide down the stairs step-by-step because she was unable to walk.

Maher Khoudairwho has been using crutches since being diagnosed with polio as a child, living on the ninth floor his only escape route was taking the stairs, he was never informed what action to take if there was a fire.

Sirria Choucair lived on the 22nd floor, due to back pain she used a walking stick. Her son Hisam said she died in the disaster because there was no escape process put into place for disabled residents.

Grenfell Tower block caught fire on 14 June 2017 at 00:54 GMT.