Mohammed Al-Haj Ali is the first identified victim of the London Grenfell Tower fire. He was a 23-year-old civil engineering student at the University of West London.
He was also a Syrian refugee, who had escaped to Britain just three years ago.
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Al-Haj Ali was following his older brother Omar out of the building early Wednesday morning, but let go of his hand after becoming overcome with smoke, The Telegraph reported. Omar made it out of the building, while the younger brother returned to his 14th-floor apartment.
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From there, Al-Haj Ali reportedly phoned and messaged his family and friends in Syria, telling them about the raging inferno.
The last message: “The fire is here now, goodbye.”
Syria Solidarity Campaign, a Britain-based non-profit organization, paid tribute to Al-Haj Ali on Facebook.
“We are heartbroken for his family, who thought he had found safety in the UK,” read the post.
The University of West London addressed the death in a statement, saying they were “shocked and saddened” by the tragic incident, HuffPost UK reported. The university added that several other students living in the apartment building remain missing, and they are working with police to help locate them.
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The death toll has climbed to 17 since the blaze began early Wednesday morning, with officials saying it is expected to rise as they search the building.
Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton added finding any residents still alive in the charred building would be a “miracle.”
With rescue efforts underway, British officials are grappling with how the massive fire could have happened.
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Safety issues at the north Kensington building were flagged repeatedly by community organization The Grenfell Action Group, but complaints weren’t addressed by the building’s owners.
In a November 2016 blog post, the group warned that a “catastrophic event” was possible at the building if issues went unresolved.
Prime Minister Theresa May has promised an investigation into the fatal fire.