“They slipped through my hands.”
Imagine this. A father aboard a boat, finally hoping this is his family’s chance for a new life.
The boat fills with water.
The father desperate, anxious, terrified battles to save his family in the high seas.
He sees his two sons, aged just three and five struggling.
The first one is okay for this moment. Just for a moment.
He reaches for his second son, but it is too late. He has slipped into the seas.
He returns to the first – and in those few precious moments he, who was okay, who was okay enough to leave just for a few moment while his father tried desperately to help the other little boy in the seas, has gone too.
Can you imagine? He searches for his wife. Where is she? She must be okay.
But she too is drowned.
“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 tells reporters.
The father of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year old boy who died while trying to make it across the Mediterranean to the Greek island of Kos, has spoken of the devastating moment his children slipped from his hands.
Aylan’s five-year-old brother Galip Kurdi, died along with their mother Rehan and eight other refugees.
The image of Aylan has in the last 24-hours become the face of the Syrian war and the refugee crisis in Europe.
Abdullah Kurdi, a Kurdish Syrian who has been in Turkey for three years and previously lived in Damascus, said he paid traffickers twice before crossing over to Kos and at one point, even tried to take off on their own.
He says the boat filled with water boat soon after they set off.
“In our first attempt, coastguards captured us in the sea and then they released us. In our second attempt, the organisers did not keep their word and did not bring the boat,” he says.
He says there was panic.
“When water filled the boat and it sank. We had life vests. I was holding my wife’s hands. My children slipped from my hands. We tried to hold onto the boat but it deflated rapidly,” he told Turkey’s Dogan News Agency.
“Everyone was screaming. I could not hear the voices of my children and my wife. I tried to swim to the beach by following the lights. I looked for my wife and children on the beach but couldn’t find them.”
He says he still dared not believed they were dead at this point and went back to Bodrum, but found out the “bitter truth” soon after.