UK & World News
Father 'Inconsolable' After House Fire Deaths
A doctor who lost his wife and all but one of his five children in a suspected arson attack is "inconsolable", a colleague has said.
Dr Abdul Shakoor, who suffered minor injuries as he desperately tried to rescue his family from their Essex home, was seen escaping the inferno with a child in his arms, it has emerged.
The doctor is currently being treated at Broomfield hospital in Chelmsford after being moved there to be closer to his critically ill daughter - three-year-old Maheen, who is fighting for her life in a burns unit.
His wife Sabah Usmani, sons Sohaib, 11, and Rayan, six, and 12-year-old daughter Hira, died in their end-of-terrace house in Barn Mead, Harlow, in the early hours of Monday.
A third son, Muneeb, nine, later died at the Princess Alexandra hospital, where Dr Shakoor worked and was also being treated until late last night. Police have not said which of the children he was able to bring outside.
One of Dr Shakoor's colleagues, Dr Purnami De Silva, who was leaving flowers near the family home, said: "It's so difficult to comprehend the gravity of what's gone on.
"As you would expect, he's inconsolable."
According to neighbours, Dr Shakoor had to be physically restrained from going back inside the property and police have said he "fought hard" to save his family.
Police, who have started a painstaking forensic examination of the house, are now investigating whether the family were not the intended targets of the attackers.
But they stressed it was an isolated incident and there was no evidence that a serial arsonist was involved. There had been no previous problems with racism in the area.
Dr Shakoor, who reportedly left from a first-floor window as flames engulfed the house, is said to be in "severe shock".
Witness reports suggest between one and four people were in the area at the time of the fire. Such sightings will form key lines of inquiry, police said.
A silver Ford Focus was found burning a short distance from the house when fire crews arrived at the address.
The vehicle was not connected to the family but that fire is also being treated as arson.
Among the flower tributes at the house, one message read: "RIP little angels and your special mummy xxx."
Lesley Lynn, headteacher at Abbotsweld Primary School where Sohaib, Rayan and Muneeb studied, said everybody had been left distraught by the "horrible tragedy".
She said: "They were intelligent and sociable with a good sense of humour, good at sports and much loved by everyone."
The Harlow Islamic Centre has described the family as "much-liked and respected".
Detective Superintendent Rob Vinson, who is leading the investigation, said the local community could hold the answer to who was behind the attack.
He said: "Nobody expects such a catastrophic incident in their own neighbourhood."
Originally from Karachi, Pakistan, the couple had lived in Saudi Arabia, where the children were born, for more than a decade before moving to the UK.
Parvez Hamid, 43, and Safia Anwar, 38, said they had known the couple since they moved to Harlow and some of their children attended the nearby Abbotsweld Primary School together.
Mrs Anwar said: "They were a wonderful family. Their children were best friends with our own."
Neighbours raised the alarm after being woken in the early hours. It is thought some form of fuel may have been used to start the fire.