‘I was just determined to get out’: Grenfell Tower survivor relives miraculous escape from 22nd floor


A woman believed to be one of the only survivors from the upper floors of Grenfell Tower has spoken of her miraculous escape two hours after the inferno engulfed the high-rise building.

Naomi Li, 32, and her cousin Lydia Liao had to feel their way down the tower from their 22nd floor flat in zero visibility, stepping over the bodies of victims as they made the perilous journey.

Her husband Lee Li-Chapman, 29, who was on a business trip in Kuala Lumpur, watched in horror on social media as the tower became engulfed in flames.

At least 80 people are believed to have been killed when the broke out at Grenfell Tower in the early hours of Wednesday, June 14.

Grenfell Tower Firefighters – In pictures

Both Mrs Li and Mrs Liao are believed to be the only survivors from the 22nd floor.

Mrs Li, who is from Taiwan and is an IT worker in the airline industry, told the Sunday Times: “I count myself lucky every day.

“I will always be haunted by the images I saw that night. After about 20 minutes, all our neighbours started to come out of their flats.

“We were just in our pyjamas. We were invited into a family’s flat on the other side of the building as they had clean air.”

Mrs Li was first alerted to the fire after smelling smoke as she prepared to get into bed. She was told by emergency services to stay in her flat when she rang 999.

Grenfell Tower death toll of about 80 came mainly from 23 flats

She then called her husband, who would spend the next two hours watching in horror as flames engulfed the upper floors of Grenfell Tower.

Residents huddled up to windows in a desperate attempt to escape the fumes, before Mrs Li and her cousin decided to make the perilous journey downstairs at about 2.30am.

She prayed with the mother of a family before leaving and said to this day she is haunted by images of one child crying by the open window.

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Firefighters work at the site of the Grenfell Tower fire (Jeremy Selwyn)

Mrs Li called her husband one more time before making her way to the stairwell and said: “We are going down, but I don’t know if we will make it or not. I love you.”

The pair, both with wet towels and clothing covering their mouths, had to stumble their way down the stairwell with zero visibility as smoke filled the building.

Mrs Li added: “We couldn’t see anything through the dense smoke, just very blurred lights. I tried to call Lydia on every floor to make sure she was behind me.

“Lydia fell over a body and screamed. I told her to get up and that we needed to focus on getting down. I kept telling her and myself that they weren’t bodies and were someone’s clothes. That was probably the saddest experience in our lives. I was just determined we would get out.

“Every breath felt like someone was trying to choke me. We moved fast, but the stairwell never seemed to end.”

The pair miraculously made their way down 15 floors before they were met by firefighters, who helped them out the building.

She said she knew they were safe after they were hit by fresh air on the third floor. She then called her husband to let him know she had escaped, about two hours after the fire had broken out.

Mr Chapman said: “I’m not sure how they managed to get all the way down,” he said. “It’s quite amazing.”

Friends have since site up a crowdfunding page for Mrs Li and Mr Li-Chapman, who lost all of their possession in the blaze.

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