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Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 16:10 GMT
'I lost everything in Hackney siege'
Charles Okeke
Mr Okeke's flat was one of three that were destroyed
As dozens of Hackney residents get back to normal following a two-week siege that evicted many from their homes, one man is facing having to start his life from scratch.

Charles Okeke lost his home and all his possessions in a fire started by gunman Eli Hall.

Mr Okeke lived in the same block as Hall, on Graham Road, Hackney, east London, and his flat was one of three destroyed during the 15 day siege.

The 52-year-old caretaker has been left with just the clothes he was wearing when he left for work at 0730 GMT on 26 December, the day the siege began.

I have no clothes - I lost everything I had in my life, everything was destroyed

Charles Okeke

During the stand-off he was housed in temporary accommodation.

But when the siege ended he was told he could not return home because his flat and all his possessions had been destroyed.

His landlord has found him some alternative accommodation in Lower Clapton, east London, but he has nothing to put in it.

With no insurance he will have to start again and has been advised to approach charities to provide him with clothes.

Scene outside siege flat after fire broke out
The property was badly damaged by a large fire

"I don't have anything to start my life with. They have given me a place, but I have nothing to move in there with," he said.

"I have no clothes - I lost everything I had in my life, everything was destroyed."

"I did not enjoy Christmas and the New Year, and I think this year will be bad for me too."

Hackney Council is still providing emergency accommodation for one family who are expected to return home within a few days.

A spokeswoman said Mr Okeke had been offered the chance to stay in temporary accommodation but had turned it down.

She said: "We have been working with landlords who own (properties within) that building to encourage them to find suitable alternative accommodation for tenants."

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC London's Yasmin Khan
"Charles Okeke's possessions were not insured and he owns only the clothes he's wearing"

Click here to go to BBC London Online

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10 Jan 03 | England
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