AYVACIK, Turkey (AP) — A witness to the drowning of 37 people including babies & other young children off Turkey's coast described the horror & screams in the moments after the boat carrying the migrants slammed into rocks, saying it was like "somebody was being murdered."
Gulcan Durdu, who lives on the beach in the Aegean resort of Ayvacik, cried Sunday while recounting for The Associated Press the tragedy that happened at dawn the previous day.
She described being awakened by screaming & wailing after the boat struck rocks & capsized.
p>"I thought somebody was being murdered," Durdu told the AP.
Durdu said that she & her husband rushed to try to assist survivors & 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 lifeless body of a migrant boy lies on the beach near the Aegean town of Ayvacik, Canakkale, Tur …
The boy was still alive when she handed him over to paramedics who had arrived, Durdu said, adding that 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 & 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 & 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.
In this image taken from APTN on Sunday Jan. 31, 2016, Gulcan Durdu talks to the Associated Press in …
Images of dead children on a beach on Saturday were another soul-searing reminder that Europe's migrant crisis keeps destroying lives & families by the day. The body of one boy was lying on large rocks on the beach, his face covered by a cloth, while the faces of other bodies scattered nearby were covered with lifejackets.
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 & 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 & 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."
The lifeless bodies of migrants lay on the shoreline near to the Aegean town of Ayvacik, Canakkale, …
Frauke Petry, the head of the party moreover known by its German initials AfD, told the Mannheimer Morgen daily on Saturday that a border police officer "must stop illegal border crossings, & moreover make use of his firearm if necessary." Pushed by the newspaper for more, she continued that "no policeman wants to fire on a refugee & 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 & 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 & 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 & wide there's nobody in sight. Therefore I pray every day that the chancellor remains healthy."
David Rising in Berlin contributed to this report.
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Source: “Associated Press”