Agony of lecturer whose wife escaped inferno only to die on the grass outside – just 50ft from where he was anxiously waiting for her (Photos)
A retired lecturer today revealed his heartbreak after his wife escaped the burning Grenfell Tower inferno – only to die on the grass outside just 50ft from where he was waiting for her.
Sabah Abdullah, 72, told MailOnline how he had been searching for his wife, Khadija Khalloufi, 52, outside the burning building in West London until 6am.
Today, however, he was told by police that her body had been found on the grass only a short distance away.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, he said: ‘The police said that we are here now to inform you that we did find the body of your wife and we found it opposite the tower building next to the leisure centre.
‘They said she died in the greenery and the flowers, in the fresh air. Outside the leisure centre. So how did she get out? Why did nobody help her? I was standing outside until six in the morning looking for her, and I didn’t see her. They told me she died just 50 feet from me.’
Mrs Khalloufi was not found with any burns and it is possible that she died of smoke inhalation, though this has not been confirmed. It is not clear whether she received any first aid.
Police have given little information to Mr Abdullah.
However, one theory is that Mrs Khalloufi was swept out of the building in the crowd, past her husband, and died on the grass nearby. It is unclear, however, whether she left the building while her husband was outside or after he had left.
He added: ‘How is it possible that she didn’t die inside and when she got into the fresh air, she passed away?’
The retired lecturer is in a state of shock and is unable to comprehend how his wife perished while he survived. ‘I experienced the same thing, the black smoke, the struggling to get out, but I survived,’ he said.
‘My wife is younger than me. I am 72, she is 52. She was very active. She was one of my students 30 years ago. How could this happen?’
Mr Abdullah had tried to lead his wife to safety through the smoke-filled stairwell as they fled their flat on the 17th floor. He had overbalanced and lost her hand in the stampede.
He had been hoping against hope that his wife would be named among the injured, he said. This morning, however, police informed him that she had become the latest victim of the tragedy.
In a heartbreaking interview, Mr Abdullah – whose wife was caring for him full-time on account of his diabetes and heart condition – said: ‘We had a 30-year marriage. She was my other half, she was my partner. She was everything.
‘Being a retired person, she was the only one to look after me. Thanks to my friends who are all here, but that was my wife. This is a different situation now.
‘She was always with me. Someone very important is missing. And why? What did she do? Does she really deserve that?’