Prayer and compelling need to bury the dead at the Bronx Mosque on Wednesday as a bereaved community prepares to say goodbye to those lost in New York City’s most devastating fire in decades.
Among those 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.
Burial plans remained uncertain as some families waited for funeral homes to be given to their loved ones and, in some cases, to 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, has gone through a lot,” said Sheikh Moses Drameh, who was helping the neighborhood deal with the tragedy at the Bronx apartment complex.
“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 that funeral homes were yet to be occupied by 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 paste photos 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.
Haji Dukure said, “The most important thing is really supporting each other. We are all members of the same community, so we are like family.” , 5, Maryam, 11, and Mustafa, 12.
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 sought class-action status for all building occupants and included seeking at least $1 billion in damages.
In response, the ownership group, Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC, said it was “devastated” by the tragedy and was “cooperating fully with the Department of Fire 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, Numaysha, 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. Every time 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 soon be released from the hospital.
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.
A Service to The Gambians
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 would have separate services.
“We’re all very concerned to be honest with you,” Dukure said. “That’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 was in God’s hands.
“As a Muslim, what we are taught in our faith, what it teaches us when anything happens to us when a disaster strikes or you lose something or you lose a loved one, is That the good God has allowed it,” he said. ,
Dukure continued, “The only thing that is guaranteed to us in this life is death.”