NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A mass funeral has been planned for Sunday for some of the victims who died in a massive fire at a Bronx high-rise apartment building earlier this week.
The service is set to be held at the Islamic Cultural Center on East 166th Street in the Bronx, Imam Musa Kabba of Musjid-Ur-Rahmah told Fox 5 New York.
Funeral services began Wednesday, according to NY1, in Harlem for two of the 17 victims – Seydou Toure, 12, and Haouwa Mahomoudu, 5 – at the Timbuktu Islamic Center. The two children were siblings whose parents are immigrants from Mali in West Africa.
Arrangements are now set for the remaining 15 victims, who all had ties to the country of Gambia, according to Fox 5.
WNYX reports the victims’ bodies arrived at a Queens funeral home on Thursday afternoon, where they are set to be cleansed and wrapped according to Islamic tradition.
Meanwhile, some families continue to grapple with the decision on whether to bury their loved ones in West Africa or the United States.
“There's a lot of emotion in those conversations, whether it's amongst us here, or it's among the families in the Gambia,” one victim’s uncle told Fox.
According to NY1, community groups and leaders have been working with the families to navigate the process of having their loved ones moved abroad for burials.
A U.S. burial site has yet to be confirmed, but it will be in either New York or New Jersey, according to NY1.
Earlier in the week, New York City officials revealed that the victims of the Bronx fire died of smoke inhalation as they tried to flee.
FDNY officials on Monday said that the fire was sparked by a malfunctioning space heater in a duplex apartment spanning the second and third floors.
Authorities said that while the fire was mostly contained to that unit, two doors that were supposed to shut automatically somehow remained open, allowing for the building to rapidly fill with smoke.