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VIDEO: Fire deaths funeral unites Sheffield

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A heartbroken community united in grief to say their final goodbyes to three little children, their aunt and their grandmother - one of the biggest funerals Sheffield has ever seen, writes Claire Lewis.

More than 2,000 mourners wept for the five victims of the horror blaze on Wake Road in Nether Edge.

VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our video report.

SLIDESHOW: Watch our moving gallery of photos taken during the funeral - CLICK HERE.

READ MORE: Give to children’s causes, say Sheffield fire deaths family - CLICK HERE.

Relatives sobbed inconsolably as the coffins of a tiny baby girl, her two young brothers, their aunt and grandmother arrived at the Madina Mosque before they were buried together.

Women close to collapse held one another for support. There were so many mourners 300 had to listen to the service via loudspeaker outside.

They started arriving, at the Medina Mosque on Wolesley Road in Heeley, three hours before the funeral started for the Kayani family, carrying flowers and weeping openly as they entered the place of worship.

Police officers had closed off the surrounding streets to allow the steady stream of mourners to gather outside.

Bobbies removed their helmets as a mark of respect, as three flower-laden hearses bearing five coffins pulled up.

The coffins carrying 53-year-old grandmother Shabina Begum, and her student daughter Anum Parwaiz, 20, were carried inside first – by a group of men who said prayers as they led them into the mosque.

A mournful hush was punctuated only by the sounds of sobbing from the street, as the coffins of Shabina’s three grandchildren were carried inside next. Brothers Adyan Parwaiz Kayani, nine, and Amaan, seven, had been laid side by side in the hearse they shared.

Placed on the tops of their coffins were blue floral wreaths, spelling out the names of the little boys who had attended Lydgate Primary School in Crosspool.

The smallest coffin of all – a white casket – was for the body of their nine-week-old baby sister, Minahil, who shared their hearse. The tiny baby was carried into the mosque last, with pink flowers adorning her coffin.

The three story mosque, which can hold around 2,000, was full to capacity - and around 300 mourners who could not squeeze inside had to listen via loudspeakers outside. Every prayer room and side room was full, with some mourners standing on the landings and stairs.

The service comprised Islamic and Urdu readings, as well as some in English, and traditional prayers and song.

Emotions ran high as the coffins were carried outside after the service. Mourners surrounded the coffins and hearses, leading to a momentary scuffle, before order was restored and the five fire victims were taken on their final journey – to City Road Cemetery.

Earlier in the day, grieving relatives stopped to visit the scene of the tragedy on the way to the mosque. Family and friends had gathered on Wake Road to greet the funeral cortege, and many struggled to hold in their heartbreak as the hearses arrived.

There were anguished scenes as men and women, clutching flowers, wept inconsolably as the three hearses pulled up. Family said prayers and sang as they stopped at each hearse, touching the windows in grief.

The coffins were draped in heavily embroidered blankets, and dozens of floral tributes and candles were placed outside the family home.

One resident who came out to say goodbye said: “It’s just so incredibly sad.”

Waheed Akhtar, chairman of the Madina Mosque on Wolseley Road, Heeley, described the days since the deaths as ‘a difficult and traumatic time for the family’ and said ‘calls of support and solidarity’ had come from around the world including from Pakistan, America, France, Saudi Arabia and Germany.

Some relatives travelled from Pakistan to attend the funeral, including Mrs Begum’s mother, who was distraught.

Appearing at the point of collapse, she had to be helped into the mosque.

Nazim Parwaiz Kayani, the children’s father, who was at work as a taxi driver when fire broke out, and his wife, Razia Nazim Kayani, were comforted at the mosque by friends and family. Nazim stood alone in quiet reflection outside the mosque, before the hearses carrying his mum, sister and three children arrived.

An investigation into the cause of the blaze is still under way, but has found nothing suspicious.

 

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