(LONDON) — Londoners who lost loved ones in the Grenfell Tower fire marked the anniversary at the remnants of the building Thursday with a moment of silence to remember the 72 victims who died.
Many wiped away tears and carried white flowers in their hands. Some wore green as part of a campaign to show support for those whose lives were forever altered by the fire.
Mahmoud Alkarad, a Syrian refugee who lived in the tower at the time of the fire, brought a photo of his close friend Mohammad Alhaj Ali, who died in the fire.
“It’s been a year, and it went so quickly,” he told ABC News. “It’s emotional to be here and remember my friend and how we used to live.”
Alkarad added that it’s been comforting to mourn with others who lost friends and family members in the blaze. Since the fire, he said he has gotten to know many of his former neighbors.
“We are united now,” he said. “I used to know 10 people in the tower. Now I know 40.”
The fire, which broke out last year in the overnight hours in North Kensington, burned for about 24 hours. It took hundreds of firefighters to get the 24-story structure under control.
The deadly blaze in the public housing apartment complex sparked outrage and raised questions about inequality in one of the richest boroughs of London. Before the fire, residents had complained about lack of safety in the building and warned that a massive fire could happen.
A public inquiry examining the circumstances leading up to the fire recently included feedback from experts, who determined that there were safety issues with doors, ventilators and elevators in the building and that external cladding helped the flames spread quickly. The fire started on the fourth floor, but it only took minutes for flames to engulf the building.
London’s Metropolitan Police is carrying out a criminal investigation and considering manslaughter charges.
On Thursday, a nationwide moment of silence was observed at noon local time. It lasted 72 seconds — one second for each victim.
The tower was lit green at 12:54 a.m., the same time the fire was first reported one year ago.
At the memorial, the names of the 72 people who died in the fire were read aloud, followed by the words “forever in our hearts.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan laid a wreath in front of the tower.
British Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted a tribute to the victims of the fire and their loved ones.
“Today, we remember those who lost their lives at Grenfell Tower and pay tribute to their family, friends and loved ones for the strength and dignity they have shown,” she tweeted.
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