UK & World News
Essex House Fire: Father Speaks Of Heartbreak
A widower has spoken of the "irreparable loss" of his wife and five children after they all died as a result of a fire at their home in Harlow, Essex.
Doctor Sabah Usmani and her children - Hira, 12, Sohaib, 11, Muneeb, nine, Rayyan, six and Maheen, three - died in the blaze in Harlow, Essex, last week.
Dr Abdul Shakoor, who desperately tried to rescue his family, was the only survivor.
Speaking publicly for the first time, the devastated father said: "It is a shocking and heartbreaking tragedy to myself, immediate family members and close friends that within such a short period of time I lost everything in my life.
"I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to this community, hospitals and my colleagues and all other institutions who have come forward like a family in this devastating time.
"I hope that the police and other authorities will continue in their efforts to investigate how this tragedy occurred.
"I would like to thank you all for being with us to support me and my family through this irreparable loss."
He also quoted verses from the Koran.
Around 400 people filled the Harlow Islamic Centre for a traditional Muslim funeral.
Paramedics, firefighters and police officers who dealt with the blaze also attended, along with teachers and pupils who studied alongside the children.
Imam Muhammed Saleem led prayers for the family.
A foot procession to nearby Parndon Wood Cemetery followed.
Six hearses led the way, from that carrying the smallest coffin belonging to Maheen, who was due to celebrate her fourth birthday on Tuesday, to Dr Usmani at the rear.
Dr Shakoor walked behind, with community elders holding his hands.
Members of the public stood along the roadside to pay their tributes.
Each coffin, topped with flowers, carried the words: "Victim of the Harlow house fire."
Parvez Hamed, a close friend of the family, said: "I spent yesterday with Dr Shakoor. What he is going through it unimaginable and we all share his pain.
"We hope today can begin to bring some closure."
Essex Police initially treated the blaze as a suspected arson attack but no trace of an accelerant used to spark the flames has been found.
Although officers continue to investigate all possibilities it is now thought "increasingly likely" the fire was a tragic accident.