The father of the drowned Syrian boy who was photographed lying lifeless on a Turkish beach has said he is preparing to take the bodies of his two sons and wife to be buried in his home town of Kobani.
Abdullah Kurdi, a Kurdish Syrian who has been in Turkey for three years and previously lived in Damascus,said he no longer had any desire to continue on to Europe.
Speaking outside the mortuary where the bodies of his two sons were being held, Kurdi said: “I just want to see my children for the last time and stay forever with them.”
Kurdi described what had happened on board the boat heading for Greece, saying the captain had panicked because of high waves and jumped into the sea, leaving him in control of the small craft.
“I took over and started steering. The waves were so high and the boat flipped. I took my wife and my kids in my arms and I realised they were all dead,” he told AP.
Three-year-old Aylan, five-year-old Galip and their mother, Rehan, were among at least 12 people who died on the boat headed for Greece. The boat was part of a flotilla of small dinghies boarded by passengers at Akyarlar, the closest point to the Greek Aegean island of Kos.
The Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu said police had detained four suspected people smugglers thought to be linked to the tragedy. Anadolu said the four, including at least one Syrian citizen, were detained on a beach on the Bodrum peninsula and would appear in court later on Thursday suspected of acting as intermediaries for illegal crossings.
The deputy district governor Ekrem Aylanc told the BBC that the Kurdi family had been in Turkey for three years before deciding they should move on to Europe. The process of repatriating the bodies of the three family members is set to begin later on Thursday, authorities told the broadcaster.
The family are understood to have been trying to travel to Canada where relatives had pledged to sponsor their asylum claim.
Mustefa Ebdi, a journalist in Kobani, said the Kurdi family had been forced to move several times during the Syrian conflict and left the country in 2012. He said the correct family name was Shenu, but that Kurdi had been used in Turkey because of their ethnic background.
“They left Damascus in 2012 and headed to Aleppo, and when clashes happened there, they moved to Kobani,” Ebdi told AFP. “And again, when clashes [with Islamic State] happened there, they moved to Turkey.”
“I tried to speak to him [Abdullah], but I couldn’t because he just started crying,” he added.
This week the Turkish coastguard said it had rescued more than 42,000 people in the Aegean Sea in the first five months of 2015, and 2,160 in the past week. More than 100 were pulled from the sea on Wednesday night alone while trying to reach Kos, the coastguard told AFP.
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