Service held for mother and daughter killed in fire

South Street in Braintree
Image caption Eyewitnesses described hearing screams as the fire took hold of the building in Braintree

A church service has been held in memory of a mother and her daughter who died in a house fire in Essex.

The fire in South Street, Braintree, began at about 22:30 GMT on Wednesday, trapping Alina Kordaszewska and her daughter Emilia, 11, inside.

Dozens of floral tributes have been left outside the property which is still being guarded by police.

More than 100 people gathered at the town's Catholic church on Thursday night for a special mass.

Image caption A special mass was held at Braintree's Catholic Church of our Lady, Queen of Peace

The cause of the fire is still being investigated by Essex Police and the fire service.

Neighbour Claire Deloubes told of screams and vain efforts to break through a window to rescue those inside.

She said: "We heard screaming so we came outside and a woman was distraught.

Image copyright Notley High School
Image caption Emilia was described as a "delightful" student by her tutor at Notley High School

"People were trying to break the front window but they didn't manage to."

Mrs Kordaszewska's other daughter Milena, 18, is understood to have been one of two women who escaped the fire.

The teenager's friends have set up a fundraising website page aimed at raising £5,000 for the family.

Image caption The number of floral tributes has been steadily growing since police reopened the road on Thursday night

One card left outside the house on South Street reads: "Dear Alina and Emilia, May you rest in Peace, 2 angels in heaven."

Another message reads: "Emilia, you were the greatest friend anyone could ever ask for and one of the kindest and bubbliest people I have ever met.

"You will always be in my heart, gone but never forgotten."

Rafa Bogonos, who worked with Mrs Kordaszewska at CommScope in the town, said the deaths had "really hit our Polish community".

Image caption Candles, flowers and written messages have been left outside the property

Notley High School, where Emilia had been a pupil, expressed its "unutterable sadness" at news of her death.

Her tutor described her as a "delightful, friendly and positive student" who had "settled in well during her first term" at the school.

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