Fatal fire father 'lost everything'

A man whose wife and five children died in a house fire has spoken of his heartbreak, saying: "I have lost everything."

Dr Abdul Shakoor was speaking at the funeral of his family, who died in the blaze at their home in Harlow, Essex, last week.

Breaking down in tears, he 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."

The emotional speech during the funeral at the Harlow Islamic Centre was the first time Dr Shakoor has spoken publicly.

He quoted verses from the Koran and added: "It would not be possible for me to stand at this time and face this reality without guidance from the holy Koran and from the personal life of the prophet Mohammed.

"I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to this community, the hospital and my colleagues and all of those who have come forward like a family at this devastating time.

"I hope that the police and other authorities will continue with 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."

Four hundred mourners joined Dr Shakoor to pay their respects.

Sabah Usmani, also a doctor, and her children - Hira, 12, Sohaib, 11, Muneeb, nine, Rayyan, six, and Maheen, three - died in the blaze in Barn Mead, Harlow, last week. Dr Shakoor, who tried to rescue his family, was the only survivor.

Paramedics, firefighters and police officers who dealt with the blaze joined members of the Muslim community for the funeral. Teachers and pupils who went to school with the children and staff from the Princess Alexandra Hospital where Dr Shakoor works were also at the ceremony.