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Channel Crossings: Survivor of tragedy Mohammed Ibrahim Zada reveals passengers 'gave up on their lives' as boat sank


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A survivor of the Channel Crossing disaster has revealed how passengers held hands when the boat capsized to try and save themselves from drowning.

Mohammed Ibrahim Zada, from a Kurdish region in Iran, was one of two survivors of last week's tragedy which has seen 27 bodies recovered so far.

Emergency services work to recover bodies of at least 27 people who drowned off Calais Picture: UKNIP
Emergency services work to recover bodies of at least 27 people who drowned off Calais Picture: UKNIP

The 21-year-old was on the Britain-bound boat last Wednesday before it filled with water and capsized.

He said: "At first water started to flow into the boat on the rear side by the motor, we were emptying the water and saw a ship and said 'let's go towards them', but the people on the boat said 'no, we shouldn't go, this boat must reach Britain tonight'."

"Then we moved away and ships in the sea started to disappear, there was only this inflatable boat and it started to lose air. The balloons had blown up and the balloons on the right hand side of the boat were now losing air.

"There was a pump inside the boat, so some people started to pump air while others were emptying water from the boat.

"Later, the people lost hope and gave up when we started to sink gradually, the waves started to push us towards France and the boat sunk and all the people fell in the water.

The sunk dinghy off Calais. Picture: Local lifeboat crew
The sunk dinghy off Calais. Picture: Local lifeboat crew
Mohammed Ibrahim Zada, 21, was one of two survivors Picture: Rudaw Media Network
Mohammed Ibrahim Zada, 21, was one of two survivors Picture: Rudaw Media Network

"We started to hold each others hands, each person holding the hand of the next person, in order not to sink or drown in the water.

"But with the sunrise early in the morning people couldn't take it anymore and they all gave up on their lives."

Following the tragic incident last week it's been revealed two mothers and each of their four children - aged as young as five - were among those found dead.

Khazal Ahmad Khdir, 42, was travelling with her sons Twana Mamand Muhammad Hussein, 19, and Mobeen, 15, and her daughters Hadya Rizger, 17, and Hasty, five.

The family were from Iraqi Kurdistan which they left about a month ago, embarking on a journey across Europe to a migrant camp in Dunkirk, France.

Local residents lay flowers on the sand on Sunny Sands Beach on 28th November 2021 in Folkestone. Photo by Andy Aitchison
Local residents lay flowers on the sand on Sunny Sands Beach on 28th November 2021 in Folkestone. Photo by Andy Aitchison

Another mother and her four children are also feared to be among the dead.

Kazhal Rzgar, 46, had been trying to reach the UK with her daughters Hadya, 22, and Hasta seven, and her sons Twana, 19, and Mubin, 16.

On Sunday a vigil was held on Sunny Sands beach in Folkestone, where more than 100 people gathered to remember those who lost their lives.

Event organiser Bridget Chapman said: "Wednesday was a terrible day. Those deaths were completely avoidable and I am both heartbroken and angry.

"But in a time of darkness the vigil was a beacon of compassion and hope. Everyone who turned out was behind the message that we need safe routes now.

"The government has lost its moral compass but our community stands for kindness and decency."

France is carrying out an organised crime investigation into the sinking, which has been labelled the worst tragedy since the current crisis began.

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