ISTANBUL, Turkey – A boat carrying migrants has sunk in the Aegean Sea, just 50 metres off Turkey’s Mugla coast, resulting in the drowning of two children.
34 migrants were on board the boat Ela, according to the Turkish Anadolu Agency. The boat sank at 5:47am local time on Monday.
Many of the migrants, whose nationalities were not known, were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard while others scrambled to the shore themselves.
Turkish police officer Harun Kilicoglu, said Anadolu, arrived on the scene after receiving a distress call and pulled a 7-year old girl from the water. He rushed to an ambulance parked 100 meters away.
Paramedics gave her a cardiac massage as a visibly moved Kilicoglu watched.
She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
"Hope filled my heart when the medics said the child could be saved. I was very happy when I heard that. I wish she had lived. I wish I could hold her hand tomorrow,” the Turkish policeman told the Anadolu Agency.
“I felt the same way a father would feel when he carries a child. I have two children myself. First, I thought about my own children. Then I thought about the children around me. I only thought about saving her life, I didn’t think of anything else."
His wife and colleague Gonul Kilicoglu said: “I'm proud of my husband...We all have children. No matter what their religion, language and race is, it is our duty to help them when needed.”
Turkey has been a pivotal point for migrants fleeing Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. It has served as a conduit to Europe, particularly since the start of the war in Syria in 2011.
More than a million migrants are estimated to have transited through Turkey to Europe in the past seven years.