The bodies of 16 persons who died on 24 November in a boat disaster that claimed 27 lives in the English Channel arrived on Sunday in Iraqi Kurdistan, where their families were waiting to organise their funerals.
The plane’s arrival at midnight in Erbil, capital of the autonomous region in the north of Iraq, was witnessed by a photographer from AFP, Belga news agency reports.
The bodies left the airport in ambulances, bound for their hometowns in Kurdistan, according to the photographer. These included Darbandikhan, Ranya, Soran and Qadrawa, where AFP had met families anxiously waiting for news of a son or loved one who might have been on the boat.
At least 27 persons died in the November disaster, the deadliest one thus far on the English Channel, crossed daily by flimsy boats carrying migrants trying to reach the coasts of England.
The repatriation was to have occurred on Friday but was twice postponed. Early on Saturday, dozens of loved ones had been told at the last minute, after waiting for hours at Erbil airport, that the plane would not be coming.
It finally arrived on Sunday.