Sangar Ahmed, 33 fears that his close friends Shakar Ali, 27 and Harem Pirot, 23 are among the dead who perished in the horrific Channel crossing tragedy
Image: Phil Harris)
Desperate asylum-seekers on the doomed Channel crossing boat could have been forced on at gunpoint when they realised how overcrowded it was.
Two best friends are feared to be among the 27 dead refugees who were crammed onto the vessel.
Shakar Ali, 27 and Harem Pirot, 23, grew up with close pal Sangar Ahmed, 33, in Ranya, Iraqi-Kurdistan.
Sangar, who is still in the Dunkirk camp they were staying in, spoke to his pals shortly before they boarded the boat.
He said he was told it was “overcrowded” with up to 50 people on it.
Sangar has not heard from his friends since Wednesday.
He grew up with Shakar and Harem in Ranya, before meeting them once more in Istanbul and travelling together to Calais.
“We don’t know for sure if they are dead but I heard they got on the boat, and I’ve heard nothing from them since,” he told the Mirror.
“I heard from them before the boat went out.
“The boat was a tiny thing with about 50 people on it. It was really overcrowded.
“If (my friends) did not want to get on they may have been forced to.
“We have all heard stories about people being threatened with a gun unless they get on.
“I have tried to message them but I’ve heard nothing back.
“It is really devastating. They are very good people and this is one of the worst feelings I have ever had.
“I grew up with these people in my home country. They were my friends, my neighbours.”
Two others from the same region – Hassan, 25, and Twama, 20 – have also not been heard from since they attempted a journey on Wednesday.
While another missing person Sangar told the Mirror of is a 25-year-old named Sirwan, from Iranian Kurdistan.
There is a desperate struggle in the squalid camp to figure out exactly who has died, but a picture is gradually being pieced together.
Sangar, who previously lived in Manchester, still wants to return to the UK but is unsure he would take a boat after the tragedy.
“Dunkirk is now like Iraq or Syria. These smugglers have guns and you cannot say anything about them,” he said.
Most of the smugglers are from Iraqi-Kurdistan, he said.
“They need to have their guns taken off them.”
It is understood that smugglers do not get paid if there are last minute withdrawals.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.