A Grenfell Tower fire survivor wept as she recalled begging a friend who died at the top of the high rise with her two young daughters to come down.
Munira Mahmud fled her fifth floor flat with her two children after being told by a firefighter she had “two seconds” to get out.
She was later joined by her husband Mohamed Rasoul, who had stayed behind to help her father-in-law Ahmed Abd El Rasoul, who has dementia and other health problems.
Mrs Mahmud called Rania Ibrahim, who was trapped on the 23rd floor with her daughters Fethia, four, and Hania, three, at about 3am after she had made it outside.
The mother had been told to stay put by the fire service, and the sound of a helicopter circling above gave false hope that those at the top of the tower would be helped.
Mrs Mahmud broke down with her head in her hands as she told the inquiry: “She would have come down, because I believe that (there were) some people who survived after 3am.
“But she did not.
“She respected and trusted and believed that they are coming to rescue them. And that rescue never came.”
Mrs Mahmud was comforted by her husband, who held her hand, and a Hestia mental health support worker as she gave her evidence.
She recalled how her “heart sank” when Mrs Ibrahim said she was still inside the tower during their phone conversation.
In her written statement, she said: “She was trying to stay calm on her phone but I could tell she was petrified.
“I think she knew that she wasn’t going to make it out alive.
“She said ‘thank God you’re alive’.
“I asked her what was going on and she told me it was very dark.
“I was terrified for her.”
Mrs Mahmud said she could hear her friend struggling to breathe, and knew she would die if she did not leave the building.
She said: “I just kept repeating ‘Come down Rania. Come down.’ She always listened to me.
“In my police statement, it states that I couldn’t hear anything in the background but I can now remember hearing her children in the background saying that they wanted their daddy and were coughing quite a lot.”
Mrs Mahmud, part of the Hubb Community Kitchen, which released a charity recipe book with a foreword by the Duchess of Sussex, said the fire had had a “terrible impact” on her family.
Her father-in-law’s dementia had been worsened by living for almost a year in a hotel room, while she has become hyper-vigilant about knowing where fire escapes are.
Thanked by inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick for reliving her “awful experience”, Mrs Mahmud explained she was motivated by justice.
She said: “Every single day, until the last minute, we’re fighting for justice, because (of) all those innocent people, my children – Rania’s children are my children.”