Muğla, Sep 28 () - A Syrian man who lost his wife and 3-year-old son in a capsized boat heading to the Greek island of Kos burst into tears as he identified his family in the resort town of Bodrum.
Turkish police officers tried to comfort Syrian migrant Hayat Sabir Burhan, himself a survivor, as the bodies of his 3-year-old son Yusuf and wife, 32-year-old Ahlan, arrived at the hospital’s morgue in the coastal town of Bodrum on Sept. 27. Turkey’s coast guard said 17 migrants had drowned after a vessel carrying them toward Greece sank in the Aegean Sea. A further 21 people – mostly Syrians – were rescued.
Burhan was in the boat bound for the Greek island of Kos from Bodrum that sank on Sept. 27. Some 17 Syrians, including five children, drowned when they failed to get out of the boat’s cabin. Another 20 migrants, who were on the boat’s deck, survived and swam back to the Turkish coast, it added. All were wearing life jackets.
The survivors were taken to a morgue in Bodrum to identify their drowned relatives.
Burhan, 39, said he had left Syria on Aug. 7 along with his family. “I am very sorry. I fell from the boat along with my wife and my little son Yusuf. Unfortunately, my wife and my son died. We are Syrians” said Burhan.
Meanwhile, five people, including the Turkish captain of the boat and a taxi driver, were detained on Sept. 28 as part of the investigation into the accident.
Muğla Gov. Amir Çiçek said the vessel sank off the Turkish island of Çavuşadası, which lies around three kilometers west of the mainland, in the early hours of Sept. 27 as it headed for Kos.
“Some 37 people were on board the eight-meter vessel. Our teams rescued 20 of them, while they found 17 bodies” he said, adding that an investigation had been launched.
Two weeks ago, 15 refugees drowned in Bodrum’s bay when their boat, a 15-meter day-trip vessel, sank.
According to the International Organization for Migration, 505,693 refugees have arrived in Europe by sea this year, most arriving in Greece. There have been 227 deaths in the Aegean Sea, the group added.
There has been a sharp spike in the numbers of migrants and refugees setting out from Turkey in flimsy boats for the European Union in search of better lives. Most are fleeing conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa.
The picture of 3-year-old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi, whose body was found washed up on a Turkish beach after a failed attempt to reach Greece, horrified the world, pressuring European leaders to step up their response to the refugee crisis.
A 5-year-old Syrian girl was found dead on Sept. 19 and several other refugees were believed to be missing when their boat sank in an attempted crossing from Turkey to Greece, the state ANA agency reported.
The Greek coastguard said it had rescued 11 people and was looking for other survivors. “We were told there were 26 people in the boat in total” a coastguard spokeswoman said.