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Policeman who found baby’s body on beach ‘crushed’ by the experience

NewsBy Sunday World
Mehmet Ciplak carries little Aylan's lifeless body in a picture that changed the world's attitude to the crisis
Mehmet Ciplak carries little Aylan's lifeless body in a picture that changed the world's attitude to the crisis

The police officer who discovered the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish shore said he was "crushed deep down" when he realised the boy was dead.

Mehmet Ciplak was pictured carrying the three-year-old from the beach in Bodrum in a photo that triggered an international outcry over the refugee crisis.

But Mr Ciplak said he had no idea a photographer was taking the image, and was just praying the little boy was still alive as he scooped him up.

Speaking for the first time about the tragedy, he said: "When I saw the baby on the beach, I approached the baby and said to myself, 'Dear God, I hope he's alive'.

"When I found out he was dead, I was crushed deep down inside.

"It was a terrible sight, it was a terrible loss."

Aylan, his five year-old brother Galip and his mother Rehan, all drowned after their boat capsized in the Aegean Sea as they tried to make the perilous crossing to Kos.

Only his father Abdullah survived.

The young Kurdish-Syrian family had fled their hometown of Kobane after fighters with Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIS, laid siege to their city.

They were trying to join members of their family in Canada.

Photos of Aylan's lifeless red t-shirted body lying on the shore and then being carried by Mr Ciplak have been seen as a turning point in the way the world views the growing refugee crisis.

Millions have been raised in the days that followed its publication as people reached into their pockets to do what they can to help refugees pouring into Europe.

Communities all over Europe have set up groups to collect clothes, tents and other emergency items to help with the aid effort.

Many people, including Bob Geldof, have offered to house refugees in their own homes.