Totonto/Ankara: Amid outrage, shock and anger across the globe following the image of a young Syrian boy lying face down on a beach in the Turkish resort town of Bodrum went viral, first on internet and later on almost all leading newspapers, their aunt recalled the last words of the unfortunate children.
“They screamed ‘Daddy, please don’t die,” she said he told her. One by one, as he realized they were dead, he closed his eyes and let go, she said.
“He said, ‘I did everything in my power to save them, but I couldn’t,’” Tima Kurdi, sister of Abdullah Kurdi, the father of drwoned children who lives in Canada, said while talking to local reporters.
“My brother said to me, ‘My kids have to be the wake-up call for the whole world"", she added.
She said her brother had sent her a text message around 3 a.m. Turkish time Wednesday confirming they had set off. The next time she spoke to him, he was in shock, telling her how he fought vainly to keep his two boys alive in the water, one tucked under each arm.
The Kurdi family was among the 12 passengers drowned after the 15-foot boat ferrying them from the Turkish beach resort of Bodrum to the Greek island of Kos capsized shortly before dawn on Wednesday. Aylan Kurdi’s 5-year-old brother, Galip, and his mother, Rehan, were also among the dead. His father, Abdullah Kurdi, was the only family member to survive.
At the morgue, Abdullah Kurdi described what happened after they set off from the deserted beach, under cover of darkness.
“We went into the sea for four minutes and then the captain saw that the waves are so high, so he steered the boat and we were hit immediately.
"He panicked and dived into the sea and fled. I took over and started steering, the waves were so high the boat flipped. I took my wife in my arms and I realized they were all dead", he said.
The incident has shocked the entire world, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing the European Union of bickering over distribution of immigrants while much poorer nations like Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon take in millions of refugees from Syria, Iraq and beyond.
“The European nations that have turned the Mediterranean into a grave for immigrants share the sin for each immigrant’s death,” Erdogan said.
“It is not only immigrants who are drowning in the Mediterranean, it is also our humanity", he added.
Turkey has taken 1.7 million of Syria’s estimated 4 million refugees.
The incident has been reported on the front pages of almost all leading newspapers, with rich tributes paid to the unfortunate victims.
“Rest in peace Aylan Kurdi. May God forgive us for failing you", were the words that concluded a heartbreaking tribute published in an Australian newspaper on Friday.
Using the hashtag #HumanityWashedAshore, social media too has been filled with tributes for Aylan, his family and the more than 2,600 migrants who are known to have died crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe this year.