LONDON: Grenfell Tower was among a dozen buildings illuminated green on Wednesday night to mark the first anniversary of the disaster that killed 72 people, a year ago.
The local community began 24 hours of commemorations for the tragedy.
At 00:54 BST, twelve other buildings across west London and Downing Street, were illuminated, the time the fire was reported twelve months ago.
Dozens of tearful survivors of the tragedy joined still-grieving relatives on an emotional walk through the area, while grasping the flowers and placards bearing images of their lost loved ones.
The procession, accompanied by a portable speaker playing a melancholic track on repeat – ended in the shadow of the burnt-out block just prior to the 12:54 am (local time) anniversary of the blaze’s outbreak.
One by one, relatives announced the names of the deceased accompanied by a flurry from a bongo drum, before pinning their pictures at the “wall of truth” – a section of the fencing around the tower featuring messages and candles.
Then at 12:54 am, heralded by a short trumpet blast, an eerie silence of 72 seconds – in memory of each of the people who perished, along with a stillborn baby – descended on the sombre site, as light rain started to fall.
“I saw everything from the start of that night and I couldn’t sleep for three weeks“, recalled Farhiya Abdi, 42, a mother-of-two who was among one of the first to arrive at Grenfell from her nearby home as the fire spread.
“When I closed my eyes I would hear the screaming for help, see the children’s faces at the window again. I saw people jump to their death“, she said earlier in the evening, at a remembrance event on a closed-off nearby street.
Thursday marks 12 months after a small kitchen fire in the high-rise turned into the most deadly domestic blaze since the World War II.
The 24-storey block was illuminated on Wednesday night, the first step in a series of commemorations taking place this week.
Clarrie Mendy, who lost two family members in the fire, said the names of the 72 victims would be read out, while 73 doves will be released outside the church. 73rd would be for unknown, if in case.
She said: “It’s a service of healing, community, inclusivity and solidarity, to know we are not alone.”
“We’ll be releasing 73 white doves. Why 73 instead of 72? One for the unknown. If there were more than 72, we will put one for the unknown.”
They will be giving out 400 white roses which people will be able to carry on their way to the tower afterwards.
— Ben Ando (@BenAndo) June 14, 2018
A minute’s silence will be observed nationally at midday.