Relatives of those drowned in the Aegean Sea on Friday gathered in front of the Turkish Consulate in Erbil on Saturday asking the Turkish government to allow them entry into the morgue in Izmir. Photo by Farzin Hassan/Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Nearly 70 Kurdish migrants drowned when their boat capsized in the Aegean Sea on Friday. The bodies of some of the dead are still missing, an immigration official said.
Rasan Ramzi, Rudaw correspondent in the Turkish city of Izmir spoke with some of the survivors of the boat wreck that cost the lives of so many people, many of them young children.
One survivor said that he lost his wife and one daughter in the incident shortly after they set off towards Greece from Turkey at dawn.
“We sailed at 5:02 am but shortly afterwards the operator of the boat lost his way and soon we ran out of fuel,” he said, standing in front of the Izmir morgue. “Our boat was quickly filled with water and we tried hard to empty out the water but we couldn’t do anything against the big waves.”
Of a family of six only this man and three others survived.
“I think only 24 of us survived, but because we have not been given back the bodies yet we don’t know who died and who survived,” he added.
The victims of Friday’s tragedy at sea were from the Kurdistan Region, most of them from the town of Rania.
“We were on the boat for three hours but the operators didn’t know where they were going and lost the way even though they were using the GPS system,” he said.
Amanj Abdullah, an Iraqi immigration official in Erbil said that he believed a total of 85 people were on the boat and only 15 survived the incident.
Abdullah added that so far 23 of the victims have been identified all of whom hailed from the Sulaimani province.
Relatives of some of the drowned migrants flew to Izmir from the Kurdistan Region where they asked the Kurdish government for assistance to repatriate the bodies of their loved ones.
Authorities of the Izmir morgue told Rudaw that the morgue keeps the bodies at a cost and if the families do not take away the bodies or pay the cost the local municipality may bury the victims.
Eight members of a family of 10 drowned on the same boat. Only one woman and a child survived.
Speaker of the Kurdish Parliament Yousif Muhammad said Friday’s tragedy shook the entire nation.
“Once again we are shaken by the news of the death of a number of our citizens in the Aegean Sea,” he said in a statement. “This has happened numerous times that people hand themselves over to an unknown fate because of injustice, financial and other accumulated crisis.”
Some relatives and families of the victims gathered outside the Turkish consulate in Erbil on Saturday, asking for permission to enter the morgue in Izmir to identify their loved ones.