The 16 bodies of migrants missing in the English Channel shipwreck have been repatriated to Iraqi Kurdistan

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The bodies of 16 of the 27 victims of the shipwreck in the English Channel in November were repatriated in the early hours of the morning to Iraqi Kurdistan, where families were waiting to hold their funerals, a French news correspondent reported.

The plane arrived at around two in the morning (local time at 01:00 Greek time) at the airport of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous region of northern Iraq. The victims were then transported by ambulance, which departed from the airport to be transported to their respective homelands in Kurdistan, he clarified.

They left for the cities of Darbadichan, Ranya, Soran and Kandrawa, where the French Agency met in November with families eagerly awaiting news of a son or relative who might be aboard the boat.

At least 27 people were killed in the tragedy of November 24, the deadliest such shipwreck in the English Channel, which is crossed daily by migrants trying to reach the English coast with often anything but sailing vessels.

At Arbil Airport Terminal, families waited anxiously for the victims to arrive.

Dozens of people, men, women and children, were there, some embracing. Women in black were mourning the loss of their own, another was holding photos of a young man.

The repatriation, which was originally scheduled to take place the day before yesterday, Friday, was postponed twice. Early Saturday morning, several relatives waited for endless hours before finally hearing that the plane would not arrive.

Of the bodies recovered, 26 were identified in France. Seventeen were men and seven were women, aged between 19 and 46. One belonged to a sixteen-year-old teenager, one to a 7-year-old child.

In addition to the sixteen Kurds in Iraq, one Kurd from Iran, three Ethiopians, one Somali, four Afghans and one Egyptian were identified.

Only two people were rescued – an Iraqi Kurd and a Sudanese -, the French Interior Ministry said.

According to the testimony of one of the survivors, 33 people were on board when the traffickers counted them.

The survivors made serious allegations against the British and French authorities. As the boat sank, they contacted the French port and the British police. Each side referred to the other; neither did the slightest thing to help, they said.

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