NEW YORK ( Associated Press) — The need for forced prayer and burial of the dead filled a Bronx mosque on Wednesday, as a bereaved community began to say goodbye to those lost in New York City’s most devastating fires in decades.
Among those still awaiting the funeral were a 2-year-old boy, a mother who died along with her three children, a family of five, and a husband and wife whose four children are now orphans. In all, 17 people died, including eight children.
Two victims – Seydou Toure, 12, and his sister Hawa Mahamadou, 5 – were remembered Wednesday during funeral services at the Harlem Mosque.
Burial plans for a large number of other victims remained uncertain as some families waited for funeral homes to give to their loved ones and, in some cases, decide between burial here or the return of their loved ones to The Gambia. Islamic law mandates that bodies be cleaned and buried as soon as possible after death, usually within 24 hours.
“This community, these people have gone through a lot,” said Sheikh Moses Drameh, who is helping the neighborhood at the Bronx apartment complex deal with the tragedy.
“Now they are grieving, but they are very understanding that if it happened, it had to happen,” he said. “And they have no right to question why this happened.”
The medical examiner’s office said two of the dead had been released earlier in the week and said funeral homes had not yet taken over the others.
“We’re open, and we’re ready to release the dead, so there’s no delay on our end,” said Julie Bolser, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner.
A memorial wall turned up near the burned-out apartment building Wednesday afternoon, when a Miami man, Leo Soto, invited passersby to stick pictures of the dead, flowers and signs on a fence with messages like “Bronx Strong.” Did. He helped organize a similar effort after the condo collapsed in Surfside, Florida last June and traveled to the Bronx after hearing about the fire.
“It’s a different community,” Soto said, “but the same amount of sadness.”
The community leaders were planning the arrangements for the funeral. Most of those killed in the fire were from the Gambia, Africa’s tiniest country.
At the siblings’ funeral, the New York Daily News said relatives, friends and other well-wishers took to the street.
“The most important thing is to really support each other. We are all members of the same community, so we are like family,” said Haji Dukuray, whose niece Haja, along with her husband and their three children – Fatomata, 5, Maryam, 11, and Mustafa, 12, were burnt in the fire. Died.
Mustafa had celebrated his birthday the night before the fire.
Neighbor Renee Howard, 68, said of Mustafa earlier in the week, “Such beautiful angelic eyes.”
The medical examiner’s office said all victims suffocated from the thick smoke emanating from a third-floor apartment, where officials say a malfunctioning electric space heater started the fire. The fire itself did not spread far, but smoke swept through the hallway and filled a staircase.
Some people came down dark stairs from the top floor of the 19-storey building. Many survived, but others fell and died on the way.
In the first lawsuit arising out of the fire, a married couple living in the building accused the building’s owners of negligence due to a lack of functional safety measures.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in state court in the Bronx, cited a lack of self-closing doors that don’t close, fire alarms that go off “all the time” and sprinkler systems, though required by law. Wasn’t.
The lawsuit seeks class-action status for all building residents and includes seeking damages of at least $1 billion.
In response, the ownership group, Bronx Park Phase III Preservation, LLC, sadly said it was “devastated” by the tragedy and was “cooperating fully with the fire department and other agencies as they continue the investigation.” “
Eight children are included in the list of names of the dead from New York City Police. The dead ranged in age from 2-year-old Osman Konteh to 50-year-old Fatomata Drameh, who died along with their three children – Futmala, 21, Nyumaisha, 19, and Muhammad, 12.
Ishaq Drameh arrived at the mosque on Wednesday to attend prayers and make arrangements for the funerals of his wife and three children, whom he plans to rest in the United States.
When he was talking inside the mosque the drammeh was dry but calm.
“I try to deal with it,” he said. “I try to take it from God. Whenever I think of him, I pray for him.”
He was thankful that another daughter survived and hoped that his 16-year-old son Yajub would be released from the hospital soon.
He was in Columbus, Ohio on work when a cousin reported the fire to him.
Inside the mosque, people sat with the drammeh and supported him during the prayers.
The mosque’s imam, Moses Kabbah, envisioned the same service as a way for all Gambian victims to surround them with support. Two of the dead are believed to have come from Mali’s families, and they would have separate services.
“We’re all very worried, to be honest with you,” Dukure said. “It’s the most important thing to know right now and I can’t focus on anything until it actually happens.”
But amid the tragedy, he and others said, the fate of their loved ones is in God’s hands.
“As a Muslim, what we are taught in our faith is what it teaches us when anything happens to us when a disaster strikes or you lose something or you lose a loved one,” He said, “It is the good that God has allowed.”
Duqure continued: “The only thing guaranteed in this life is death.”
Associated Press journalists Mary Altaffer and Michael R. Sisak and Michael Hill in Albany, New York contributed to this report.
This story has been corrected to show that Dremme’s son at the hospital is not named Yakub but Yajub, and that the two funerals were for a brother and sister, not sisters.