London

Neasden house fire: Children's deaths 'devastate' pupils

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Media captionCrest Girls' Academy principal Bev Bell: 'Tears are great' for grieving process

The deaths of two teenage girls who were among five children killed in a house fire have left their school "devastated", its head has said.

Hanua Kua, 14, and her sister Basma, 13, died at their home in Neasden, north-west London, on Saturday.

Their mother Muna Elmufatish, 41, sister Amal, nine, and brothers Mustafa, five, and Yehya, two, also died at the house in Sonia Gardens.

Bev Bell, principal of Crest Girls' Academy, spoke of a "terrible tragedy".

The children's older sister Nur, 16, is in a critical but stable condition in hospital, while their father, Bassam Kua, 51, is described as stable.

Police said they were not treating the six deaths in the fire as suspicious.

'Like a bomb'

Mrs Bell said she was "shocked" about what had happened and pledged the school would do all it could to help the family.

"The whole academy community is absolutely devastated," she said.

"We are liaising with the police to do what we can to help and I have contacted staff and other colleagues."

She confirmed Nur was a former pupil of the academy.

Image caption Pupils will attend a special assembly on Monday after the fire that killed six members of the family

Flames engulfed the semi-detached house in a blaze that was tackled by 30 firefighters.

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".

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

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

"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.

"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."

Counsellors' support

Fire crews took two hours to bring the blaze under control leaving the ground and first floors badly damaged.

A minute's silence for those who died was held on Saturday evening by fire crews from across the UK who are attending a firefighters' event in east London.

Mrs Bell said the school would be open to allow people to lay floral tributes. She said there would be an assembly on Monday for pupils at the girls' academy, and the boys' academy on the same site.

"I have arranged for counsellors to join us to support students and staff who are shocked and very upset by what has happened," she said.

The post-mortem examinations will take place on Monday morning at Northwick Park mortuary.

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