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72 seconds of silence to honour Grenfell disaster dead as inquiry begins

Water is sprayed on Grenfell Tower in west London.

The inquiry into the Grenfell fire disaster has begun with a 72-second silence to honour the 72 victims of the blaze.

It marked the beginning of two weeks of poignant tributes from family and friends as the first phase of the public inquiry gets under way.

Almost one year on, bereaved family and friends will paint a picture of the loved ones they lost in front of the retired judge chairing the probe, Sir Martin Moore-Bick.

The family of Logan Gomes - a baby stillborn after his mother escaped from the 21st floor - were the first relatives to speak at the central London hearing.

The words "twinkle, twinkle, little star, do you know how loved you are?" were displayed on screen, which, his father Marcio said, had been on the wall of the child's room-to-be.

"It was our way of showing how much we loved our son, Logan," he told the hearing.

Pausing often as emotion overcame him, he said: "On the night we managed to escape the horrific fire at around four in the morning.

"That same evening, we found out that we had lost our son, Logan, in the hospital."

Opening the inquiry, Sir Martin said: "In terms of loss of life the fire was the single greatest tragedy to befall this city since the end of the Second World War.

"The sight of the building engulfed in flame is indelibly printed on the memories of those who experienced an event of unimaginable horror."

He added: "When we die, we live on in the memories of those who knew and loved us. It is fitting therefore that the opening hearings ... should be dedicated to the memory of those who died.

"They will be remembered by the words and pictures chosen by the people who knew them best and loved them most, their families and friends."

The fire swept through Grenfell Tower in west London on June 14 last year.

Some families have chosen not to take part in the commemorations.

The commemorations are taking place at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in south Kensington, a new venue closer to the Grenfell community.

Private rooms, quiet areas and a prayer room will be available for the bereaved, survivors and residents, while there will be counselling and NHS support.

As the hearings are taking place during Ramadan, the morning sessions are expected to adjourn for lunch at 12.45pm to allow Muslims to prepare for the 1pm prayer.

The rest of phase one of the inquiry will take place at Holborn Bars in central London, where several procedural hearings have already happened.

The probe is believed to have the largest number of core participants to date, with more than 500 survivors, bereaved families and friends, and members of the North Kensington community participating.

As of Thursday, some 533 people have been made core participants in the inquiry, including 21 children. Twenty-nine organisations are core participants.

The main hearing room has a capacity for 500 people and bereaved, survivors and residents will be reserved seats at the front each day.

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