Witness to migrant boat capsizing near Turkey recounts tragedy

AYVACIK, Turkey -- A witness to the drowning of 37 people including babies and other young children off Turkey's coast recounted the disaster, describing the screams in the moments after the boat carrying the migrants slammed into rocks.

See Full Article

Gulcan Durdu, who lives on the beach in the Aegean resort of Ayvacik, cried Sunday while retelling the tragedy that happened at dawn the previous day.

She described being awakened by screaming and wailing after the boat struck rocks and capsized.

"I thought somebody was being murdered," Durdu said.

Durdu told The Associated Press that she and her husband rushed to try to help survivors and brought a boy to their home to try to warm him up.

"We wrapped him up (in blankets)," she said. "I brought the hair dryer to 'warm.' The boy became limp in my arms" before losing consciousness.

The boy was still alive when she handed him over to paramedics who had arrived. Durdu said she would be haunted by the tragedy forever.

"I will never stop hearing those cries for the rest of my life," Durdu said. "I will never forget. It was terrible. They died screaming. It was dark.

"We were only able to save those who were able to swim ashore."

On Sunday, the overturned boat was still sitting on rocks offshore and visible from the construction site where Durdu lives. The beach was littered with grim reminders of the disaster, including lifejackets, a child's sandal, clothing and other personal belongings that had washed onshore.

The migrants were trying to make the short journey from Turkey to Greece. Europe has endured a huge influx of migrants, most of whom undertake a dangerous journey in search of a better life.

Images of dead children on a beach on Saturday were another soul-searing reminder that Europe's migrant crisis keeps destroying lives and families by the day.

They recalled the photo of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying face down on a Turkish beach last year. His story put an intimate face on the Syrian refugee crisis for people across the world, prompting many to finally grapple with the magnitude of the suffering caused by the war in the Middle East and the treacherous journeys many risk seeking shelter in Europe.

European countries have been strained by the influx of migrants, leading to disagreements over what to do with the large number of new arrivals and how to share the burden.

In Germany, the vice chancellor called for a nationalist party to be put under observation by the government agency that tracks extremists after its leader suggested that police should be allowed to shoot refugees trying to enter the country.

Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told Bild newspaper that "there is massive doubt that (the Alternative for Germany party) stand by the free democratic order of the republic."

Frauke Petry, the head of the party also known by its German initials AfD, told the Mannheimer Morgen daily on Saturday that a border police officer "must stop illegal border crossings, and also make use of his firearm if necessary." Pushed by the newspaper for more, she continued that "no policeman wants to fire on a refugee and I don't want that either. But the last resort includes the use of armed force."

Germany saw nearly 1.1 million asylum-seekers enter the country last year and the AfD has been gaining in support as more people question whether the government will be able to deal with the influx.

Joerg Radek, vice-chairman of the GdP police union, slammed Petry's suggestion, saying no German police officer would shoot at a refugee.

"Whoever proposes such a radical approach apparently wants to overturn the rule of law and exploit the police," he said in a statement.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, received support from an unlikely source for her handling of Germany's refugee crisis.

Baden-Wuerttemberg governor Winfried Kretschmann, a member of the Greens party that is in opposition at the federal level, told Berlin's Tagesspiegel newspaper the chancellor's insistence on "working step by step" on a European solution to the refugee crisis was the correct path.

"Which of her counterparts in the EU will hold Europe together if she fails?" he asked. "Far and wide there's nobody in sight. Therefore I pray every day that the chancellor remains healthy."

------

David Rising in Berlin contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Man recounts pushing fiancee away from car during protest

    World News CTV News
    CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- With tires screeching and bodies flying, Marcus Martin shoved his fiancee out of the way of a car charging through a crowd of peaceful protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Marcus Martin was promptly hit and upended by the car as it plowed through the crowd. Source
  • Vandals tag Lincoln Memorial with vulgar graffiti

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — The National Park Service says someone used red spray paint to scrawl an anti-law message on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. The Park Service says the vandalism took place early Tuesday morning. A photo released by the service shows an expletive followed by the word “law” scrawled on the inside of one of the memorial’s columns. Source
  • Confederate plaque dedicated to Jefferson Davis removed from Montreal Hudson's Bay wall

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A Confederate plaque on a wall outside the Hudson’s Bay department store in downtown Montreal was removed Tuesday evening, Hudson’s Bay Canada spokesperson Tiffany Bourré confirmed. Bourré did not specify the reasons for the plaque’s removal. The plaque was dedicated to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865. Source
  • Sex charge against P.E.I. man 'byproduct' of Creep Catchers sting: police

    Canada News CTV News
    CHARLOTTETOWN -- A Prince Edward Island man is facing a sex charge following a sting operation by the vigilante group known as the Creep Catchers. The Charlottetown Police Service says the 31-year-old man from Charlottetown has been charged with making an agreement or arrangement to commit a sexual offence against a child. Source
  • Women, toddler among 13 killed by falling oak tree in Portugal [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    LISBON, Portugal — Authorities say a 12-month-old baby and two foreign women were among the 13 people killed when a huge oak tree crashed down on an outdoor religious festival in Portugal’s Madeira Islands. Miguel Reis, a local health official, says the foreigners killed in Tuesday’s accident were a 42-year-old French woman and a 31-year-old Hungarian woman. Source
  • Workers remove Baltimore Confederate monuments overnight

    World News CTV News
    BALTIMORE -- Confederate monuments in Baltimore were quietly removed and hauled away on trucks in darkness early Wednesday, days after a violent white nationalist rally in Virginia that was sparked by plans to take down a similar statue there. Source
  • 'Tiny and fragile': Edmonton woman's family seeks answers after she dies in police custody

    Canada News CBC News
    Deanna Noname opted to leave her oxygen tank behind when she left her brother's home for the last time that Sunday morning. The next time family members saw Noname, she was dying in a bed at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Source
  • Baltimore removes Confederate monuments overnight

    World News CBC News
    Work crews took down four Confederate monuments in Baltimore, Md., overnight into Wednesday, days after white nationalists led a deadly protest over the planned removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville. A monument to both Robert E. Source
  • Delays at Pearson Airport's Terminal 3 baggage drop off

    Canada News CTV News
    Passengers departing from Toronto Pearson International Airport’s Terminal 3 have been told to allow extra time for check-in on Wednesday morning due to ongoing intermittent technical issues at the baggage drop-off area. The delays began around 6:30 p.m. Source
  • Murder probe starts after legs are found in Rome trash bin

    World News CTV News
    ROME -- Police in Rome say they are investigating a suspected murder after hacked-off legs, apparently of a woman, were found in a trash bin on an upscale street and a head and torso were found in trash elsewhere in the Italian capital. Source