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‘They slipped through my hands’: Father whose two sons washed up on Turkish beach describes horrific moment they drowned as he vows to take bodies of his wife and children home to Kobane

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‘They slipped through my hands’: Father whose two sons washed up on Turkish beach describes horrific moment they drowned as he vows to take bodies of his wife and children home to Kobane

  • WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
  • Bodies of two Kurdish brothers washed up on a beach in Bodrum, Turkey
  • Their parents were fleeing the violence in Syria with their two young sons
  • Mother died but father Abdullah Kurdi was able to swim back to shore
  • He has described the moment his family slipped through his hands 

The father of two young boys whose bodies washed up on a beach in Turkey has described the horrific moment they slipped through his hands as he screamed for help.

Little Aylan, three, and Galip Kurdi, five, were on an overcrowded boat filled with refugees fleeing the war in Syria when it capsized shortly into the crossing to the Greek island of Kos.

Both boys died in the sea alongside their mother, Rehan, while their father Abdullah survived. Today he arrived at a morgue in the city of Mugla to say his final goodbyes.

He told reporters: ‘My kids were the most beautiful children in the world, wonderful. Now all I want to do is sit next to the grave of my wife and children.’

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Grief: Abdullah Kurdi, the father of the two Syrian refugees found washed up on a beach, arrives at a morgue

Devastated: Mr Kurdi explained: 'I was holding my wife's hand, but my children slipped through my hands'

Heartbreaking: Abdullah (left) had tried to keep hold of his family as he clung to the side of an upturned dinghy

Galip (right), five, and Aylan Kurdi (left), three, pictured with their father Abdullah who survived the tragedy

The bodies of Aylan, three (left) and his brother Galip, five (right) washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean

The bodies of Aylan, three (left) and his brother Galip, five (right) washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean

A devastated Abdullah Kurdi pictured waiting at the morgue in Mugla, southern Turkey, where he went to say his final goodbyes

The coffins of some of the migrants who drowned being loaded into a funeral vehicle in southern Turkey

Mr Kurdi told reporters: 'My kids were the most beautiful children in the world,' as he tearfully watched the coffins of the dead leaving the morgue

Mr Kurdi told reporters: ‘My kids were the most beautiful children in the world,’ as he tearfully watched the coffins of the dead leaving the morgue

Aylan and Galip, who were not wearing life jackets, did not stand a chance when the boat overturned in the dead of night, some 30 minutes after it set off from the holiday resort of Bodrum in Turkey.

All 17 passengers were flung into the Mediterranean, and despite the calm water, Galip and Aylan drowned.

Their lifeless bodies, still clad in tiny T-shirts and shorts, washed up on Ali Hoca Point Beach in Bodrum yesterday.

Mr Kurdi has confirmed to reporters that he was on board the ship with his family but was unable to save them.

He said the boat’s captain panicked due to the high waves and jumped into the sea and fled, leaving him in control of the small craft.

‘I took over and started steering,’ he said. ‘The waves were so high and the boat flipped.’

He told Turkey’s Dogan News Agency: ‘I was holding my wife’s hand, but my children slipped through my hands. We tried to cling to the boat, but it was deflating.

‘It was dark and everyone was screaming.’

Mr Kurdi said his family were trying to get to Canada from Kobane after fleeing to Turkey last year to escape Islamic State extremists.

According to Mr Kurdi’s Facebook page, he was originally from Damascus in Syria. He told Dogan News Agency he had paid human traffickers to take his family to Kos twice before, but both attempts failed.

‘In our first attempt, coastguards captured us in the sea and then they released us. In our second attempt, the organisers did not keep their word and did not bring the boat,’ he said.

It is believed a smuggler told the journey would only take 10 minutes.

Yesterday he identified the bodies of his wife and two sons and waited for their release from the morgue in Mugla, Turkey.

Now he wants to return to Kobane now to bury his family. A hospital official in Bodrum said the bodies would be flown to Istanbul later today and taken to the Turkish border town of Suruc before reaching their final destination Kobane.

Father of migrant kids that died at sea: They were wonderful
A policeman on a Turkish beach gently recovers the body of little Aylan, 3, who washed up on a beach

A policeman on a Turkish beach gently recovers the body of little Aylan, 3, who washed up on a beach

Both boys died in the sea alongside their mother, Rehan, while their father Abdullah Kurdi survived

The young boys are just among almost 3,000 migrants who have already died this year in the Mediterranean

The young boys are just among almost 3,000 migrants who have already died this year in the Mediterranean

The bodies of the brothers washed up on a beach in Turkey after the boat they were travelling in capsized

The bodies of the brothers washed up on a beach in Turkey after the boat they were travelling in capsized

The boys’ aunt has spoken of the moment Mr Kurdi called relatives after the tragedy.

She revealed the family had been refused visas in June to join her in Canada, so instead had taken the fateful decision to risk their lives by paying smugglers to take them to Europe.  

‘I heard the news at five o’clock in this morning,’ Vancouver-based Teema Kurdi told National Post.

She said she learned of the tragedy through a telephone call from Ghuson Kurdi, the wife of another brother, Mohammad, who had spoken with the bereaved father.

‘She had got a call from Abdullah, and all he said was, “my wife and two boys are dead”,’ she explained.

The aunt said an application to sponsor the family to go to Canada was rejected in June.

‘I was trying to sponsor them, and I have my friends and my neighbours who helped me with the bank deposits, but we couldn’t get them out, and that is why they went in the boat,’ she added.

Canadian legislator Fin Donnelly told The Canadian Press he had submitted a request on behalf on the boys’ aunt.

Canadian immigration authorities rejected the application, in part because the family did not have exit visas to ease their passage out of Turkey and because of their lack of internationally recognised refugee status, the aunt told the Ottawa Citizen.

Migrant dad emotional talking about family that died at sea
Smiles: Galip and Aylan Kurdi (pictured) hail from the Syrian city of Kobane. According to relatives, their father now wants to return their to bury the two boys and their mother

Smiles: Galip and Aylan Kurdi (pictured) hail from the Syrian city of Kobane. According to relatives, their father now wants to return their to bury the two boys and their mother

Aylan Kurdi, three, pictured before he died when an overcrowded dinghy capsized shortly into a crossing to the Greek island of Kos

According to Abdullah Kurdi's Facebook page, he was originally from Damascus in Syria but had been living in Istanbul, Turkey. He uploaded this photograph of himself in Turkey in August 2014

According to Abdullah Kurdi’s Facebook page, he was originally from Damascus in Syria but had been living in Istanbul, Turkey. He uploaded this photograph of himself in Turkey in August 2014

In total, 13 passengers – including the Kurdish brothers, their mother Rehan, 35, and another three children – are believed to have died in the tragedy.

According to local reports the boats were part of a flotilla of dinghys that were boarded at an inlet before puttering out to the sea off Akyarlar – the nearest point from Turkey to the Greek island of Kos.

Another dinghy among the flotilla, which was carrying a further 16 refugees to Kos, also capsized.

The fisherman who found the brothers’ bodies told the BBC: ‘I came to the sea and I was scared. My heart is broken.’

Tragically among the dead on that boat was another set of brothers, Zainb Ahmet-Hadi, 11 and his younger brother Hayder, nine.

Their grief-stricken mother Zeynep was pictured being consoled by her surviving daughter Rowad, seven.

According to one passenger, Omer Mohsin, there were 175 people crammed onto 12 boats in the narrow inlet of water.

‘We paid 2,050 euro each,’ said Omer, whose brother Bekir is feared to be among the dead.

‘The boat we boarded is for 10 people, 17 people boarded. It sank almost as soon as we reached the open water – but it was pitchblack – those that couldn’t swim didn’t stand a chance.’

Five Turkish coastguard boats, an air sea rescue helicopter and a spotter plane all raced to the scene at dawn after eye-witness reports of bodies floating in the sea.

The coastguard confirmed that none of the boats had made it to Kos – all turned back to Bodrum.

The route between Bodrum and Kos is one of the shortest from Turkey to the Greek islands and thousands of people are boarding rubber dinghies and attempting the perilous sea crossing despite the risks

The route between Bodrum and Kos is one of the shortest from Turkey to the Greek islands and thousands of people are boarding rubber dinghies and attempting the perilous sea crossing despite the risks

Two boats capsized off the Turkish coast and the refugees’ belongings washed up on a beach in Bodrum

A migrant is pictured washed up on the sand at a beach in Bodrum, which is popular with tourists 

A migrant is pictured washed up on the sand at a beach in Bodrum, which is popular with tourists

SMUGGLER REVEALS THE SECRETS OF THE DARK TRADE

Smuggling boat captains today blamed European efforts to slam the door shut on Syrian refugees for the sickening scenes of dead children washed up on Turkish beaches.

He said boat captains, like him, had stopped taking migrants across the Mediterranean because Turkish and Greek coastguards had stepped up patrols and if they are caught they face prison sentences.

This, he explained, had led the migrants into the hands of more unscrupulous people traffickers who would put families into flimsy inflatable boats instead – making the journey much more dangerous.

The route between Bodrum and Kos is one of the shortest from Turkey to the Greek islands and thousands of people are boarding rubber dinghies and attempting the perilous sea crossing despite the risks

The route between Bodrum and Kos is one of the shortest from Turkey to the Greek islands and thousands of people are boarding rubber dinghies and attempting the perilous sea crossing despite the risks

With no hint of irony or guilt, one told MailOnline: ‘It is impossible to help these people safely. No boat captain will pilot these people to Kos now – the risk is just too great.’

The captain, who asked not to be named, has his own boat offering day cruises and fishing charters to tourists.

‘Over the last few years we’ve had many requests to take refugees over to Kos,’ explained the skipper.

‘These are desperate people looking for a better future for their families. There is no hope of any kind of life under those barbarians,’ he said – referring to the Islamic State that now controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

‘If you are unlucky enough to be near the caliphate you should snatch up your family and run for your lives,’ the captain said.

‘I have spoken to many people who have fled Syria and their stories are so shocking it’s almost unbelievable.’

But while the rest of the world twiddle their thumbs to find a solution to the escalating crisis in Syria, the exodus has turned into a stampede.

‘We have always run routes across to Greece,’ the captain said. ‘But in the last two years it has become crazy. Thousands of people are turning up every day.

‘Unfortunately as the numbers increased so has the publicity both here and in Greece. The waters are constantly patrolled by coastguard and lifeboats from both countries.

‘It’s not so bad for the refugees – if they get picked up by the Greeks they claim asylum. If they’re turned back by the Turks they just bide their time and try again.

‘It’s completely different for the captains. If we get stopped in Turkey our boats are confiscated and we can face six months in jail.

‘If we’re stopped by the Greeks they take it even more seriously and many of my friends have been jailed for five years in Greece for people trafficking.

‘It’s become too big a risk. We aren’t the ones that make the big money. It’s just not worth it anymore.’

Thousands of people are risking their lives to cross the sea and the evidence can be seen on the beach where the bodies of the two brothers washed up

Thousands of people are risking their lives to cross the sea and the evidence can be seen on the beach where the bodies of the two brothers washed up

The captain added: ‘Most Syrians can’t swim and yet now the organisers are simply picking a couple of the refugees and putting them in charge of these inflatable boats.

‘They have no knowledge of tides or currents. They don’t know how to control the boats or even how many one boat should hold and so it’s no surprise that so many are capsizing.

‘There are no controls, no safety checks. Those little boys yesterday weren’t even wearing life jackets. They had no hope.’

The captain explained that it was mainly Syrian-run gangs that now operate the routes to Greece.

‘They are buying up boats everywhere and anywhere. The cheaper the better because they know it’s a one way trip.

‘They’ve run out of boats locally and are now making daily trips along the coast – even as far as Marmaris, 75 miles away, to find old and cheap boats to buy.

‘Many are just buying inflatable dinghys with a tiny four horse-power engine on the back.

‘They board the refugees at night inland because once they’re on board and in the open water it’s less likely the Turks will stop them because they threaten to capsize themselves – they’re that desperate to reach Europe.

‘The inlets are much calmer and easier to manoeuvre but once on board the organisers simply give them a two minute lesson on operating the boat and disappear.

‘As soon as they reach the open water the problems start. They have no idea how to counter waves and are often tipped out within minutes of reaching the coast.

‘Even if they can manage to struggle back on board it’s unlikely the engine will start again – even if they knew how to do it. It is a disaster waiting to happen and it’s happening every night.

‘Until Europe comes up with a better plan you can expect to see many more babies drowning.

The dead are among the 2,500 people who have already lost their lives this year while fleeing violence, oppression and poverty and trying to reach Europe by sea.

The route between Bodrum and Kos is one of the shortest from Turkey to the Greek islands. Thousands are attempting the perilous sea crossing despite the risks.

Elsewhere in Europe, hundreds of desperate migrants poured into Budapest’s main railway station this morning after Hungarian police withdrew following a two-day standoff, triggering chaotic scenes.

Crowds stormed a stationary train, cramming children through open windows in the belief they might travel west to Austria and Germany.

Hungary’s main railway operator, however, said there would be no direct trains leaving for western Europe today.

Grieving Zeynep Abbas Hadi, another mother who lost two of her three children, was tended to by hospital staff

Zeynep Abbas Hadi's surviving daughter Rowad comforts her outside Bodrum state hospital following the death of two of her children

Zeynep Abbas Hadi’s surviving daughter Rowad comforts her outside Bodrum state hospital following the death of two of her children

Perilous trip: Although only 13 miles from Bodrum, Turkey, to the Greek island Kos, it is still a dangerous trip

Perilous trip: Although only 13 miles from Bodrum, Turkey, to the Greek island Kos, it is still a dangerous trip

ISLAMIC STATE THREAT TO KOBANE

Islamic State fighters battled for four months to seize Kobane, Syria, in last year, but Kurdish fighters backed by US-led air strikes seized back control in January in a symbolic defeat for the jihadists.

However, Kurds have been fleeing the city, often making treacherous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea to make it to mainland Europe.

In June, ISIS fighters attacked their city, detonating a suicide bomb and battling Kurdish forces in the streets.

Civilians and Kurdish fighters were killed as the terror group attacked the town on three sides after reportedly coming across the border from Turkey.

‘Attention please, on Track 8 the train does not depart. Please get off the train,’ the station said over the loudspeakers.

There was no immediate word about why the police withdrew.

More than 2,000 migrants, many of them refugees from conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, had been camped in front of the Keleti Railway Terminus, closed to them by authorities saying European Union rules bar travel by those without valid documents.

And Greece’s coast guard said today it has rescued hundreds of migrants at sea as they attempted to reach Greek islands clandestinely from the nearby Turkish coast.

It picked up 751 people in 19 incidents between yesterday morning and this morning off the coasts of the islands of Lesbos, Samos, Agathonissi, Farmakonissi, Kalymnos and Symi.

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This entry was posted on 2015-09-03 by in News Articles.
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