Headteacher of girl who died in chemical incident says tragedy ‘doesn’t make sense’


Fatiha Sabrin, aged 11, was found unconscious at her family’s flat in Shadwell, east London, on Saturday afternoon, and tragically died shortly afterwards

Fatiha Sabrin was found unconscious at her family’s flat in Shadwell, in east London
Fatiha Sabrin was found unconscious at her family’s flat in Shadwell, in east London

The headteacher of a “bright” girl who died after a suspected chemical poisoning said the tragedy sounded like “something out of a film”.

The girl, who a family friend identified as 11-year-old aspiring doctor Fatiha Sabrin, was found unresponsive in her home in Shadwell, east London, on Saturday afternoon.

She was rushed to hospital, reportedly alongside her mother and brother, where she sadly died a short time later.

Zara Rahman, headteacher of Buttercup Primary School, said Fatiha’s brother – thought to be aged seven – was back in school on Monday.

But she is awaiting updates on the children’s mother who remains in hospital.

Ms Rahman said Fatiha’s brother is “confused and in shock”.

Chemicals believed to be ‘pest control’ were found in the building



“He hasn’t seen either of his parents, his mum is still in hospital so we don’t know what happened,” she added.

Asked when she first heard about the incident, she said “immediately”.

“It was a shock, you don’t expect to hear that about a fit and healthy child.

“Police said a chemical gas was found in the building. It didn’t make sense, it was like something out of a film, it’s just so unfortunate.

“You always expect all pupils to return back to school on Monday safe.”

Sabbir Ahmad, the family friend who identified the victim, said the girl’s father has been stuck in an airport since the tragedy happened, as he was in Bangladesh on a business trip.

The girl was found unresponsive in her home

Describing Fatiha, Sabbir said: “She was a very bright girl. She was in my home eight or nine days ago and was discussing her future plans.

“She was very responsive and told me she wanted to be a doctor, and wanted to make something very good of her life.

“She was also a great writer, she received awards for her writing skills.”

The child’s death is being treated as unexplained and the Met said a special post-mortem examination will be scheduled in due course.

Other residents of the building also reported feeling unwell and a full evacuation took place.

After the evacuation, the London Fire Brigade swept the building and discovered a ‘quantity of chemicals’ believed to be used for pest control.

Sabbir said his wife who arrived at the flat and found the family in trouble, calling an ambulance.

He said he believes Fatiha’s mother is are recovering in hospital, with many tests still to be carried out due to the nature of the chemical incident.

Toni Santos Babi, a resident in the block, said: “I and my flatmates smelled a strange smell in our flat, and I had a headache, and they had a cough and throat ache for the last two days.”

He explained: “Around 5pm firefighters came into my flat to measure levels of some chemicals and they found a higher number in the toilet.”In the meantime, more police were coming and they closed the whole road.

“Then another team of medical came to re-measure the chemical level, and around 7.30pm they told us to evacuate ASAP.”

The building was evacuated and residents were eventually moved to hotels, where they have been told they will stay for two days.

A police car remains at the scene outside Nida House, which was evacuated following the incident.

Most of the building’s windows are open and a cordon remains in place.

One bouquet of flowers has been laid next to the block’s main door.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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