Hunar Rahad, a migrant from Iraq, talks about losing his wife and three children as they were being smuggled from Turkey to Greece on August 9, 2018. Photo: AA video
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A boat carrying 13 migrants, 12 Iraqis and one Syrian, sunk in the Aegean Sea southwest of Turkey's Aydin province on Thursday, killing nine Iraqis.
Turkey's Coast Guard Command responded just before 4 a.m. to find an unregistered boat sinking, according to its statement.
The coast guard sent two boats and a helicopter. They were able to rescue three men and one child; however, the dead bodies of seven children and two women were pulled from the sea.
Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency interviewed one of the survivors outside of a morgue in Kusadasi. He was mourning the loss of his wife and three children.
“I asked the organizers for a life vest. They said, ‘No, just get on. Otherwise, we’ll kill you',” Hunar Rahad said. “They made us get on the boat at gunpoint. They said, ‘We have your money; we won’t give it back to you if you don’t sail.' "
Rahad, an Iraqi, says he and another family each paid smugglers $3,000. He recalled that the boat's driver received a phone call, stepped on the gas, then jumped into the sea before the boat capsized.
The names of the deceased were not released by Turkish officials.
Turkey Coast Guard Command released this video from a helicopter of rescue efforts off its southwestern coast on August 9, 2018.
Turkey, which shelters nearly 4 million of refugees mostly because of the Syrian conflict, has closed off most of its land routes to immigrants.
Some are still willing to risk illegal immigration, hoping for better lives in Europe.
Anadolu reported that in 2017, Turkey held 15,000 migrants from Pakistan, 12,000 from Afghanistan, and 10,000 Syrians.
Turkey receives billions of euros from Europe to shelter refugees per the Facility for Refugees in Turkey Agreement.
Rights group have in the past attacked the EU-Turkey deal and said migration is a human right that should be protected by European institutions.