A woman and two children have drowned after their boat capsized while trying to cross the Marista River in eastern Europe.
The boat, which carried at least eight people, sank on Tuesday morning (February 13) due to heavy rain and rising waters. Those aboard were trying to flee Turkey.
Rescue teams found the bodies of a woman identified as Ayse Abdurrezzak, 37, her 11-year-old son Abdülkadir Enes and an unidentified child believed to be around three years old.
The only known survivor to date is Fatih Yasar, who managed to swim across the river.
Four other people who were aboard the boat are still missing.
Euronews spoke to survivor Fatih Yasar.
“The boat wasn’t big enough to carry all of us, Yasar says, we insisted to make two rounds but they didn’t listen to our concerns.”
Yasar added that the level of the water was too high and that the boat was spinning constantly.
“We hit a tree branch and the boat (started to) skid. It capsized after hitting a second branch. It was extremely cold that no one could speak. I have not heard a single voice after we sank. Just as I thought I was dying I found a piece of wood to hold on to. I made it to the shore, it was tough.”
Having lost all of his belongings in the river, Yasar walked for about five hours in wet clothes until spotting a Greek soldier who brought him to a refugee camp.
Now Yasar is staying with a friend in Athens.
Friends of the Abdurrezzak family say Ugur Abdurrezzak was also in the boat with his wife and son.
Rescue teams are still searching for him and three others who are believed to be members of the Dogan family: Fahrettin Dogan, his wife Ayse Dogan, and their two-and-a-half-year-old son Ibrahim Selim.
Turkish authorities detained three men of Pakistani origin on suspicion of human trafficking, two were later arrested.
Ugur and Ayse Abdurrezzak worked as teachers until they were removed from their posts by an emergency decree law related to a failed coup attempt in 2016.
Ugur Abdurrezzak spent 11 months behind bars over alleged links with the Gulen movement before being released last month by a court pending trial.
Ankara accuses Fethullah Gulen and his network of orchestrating an attempted coup in 2016. Gulen has denied the charges.
The purge by the government following the failed coup has resulted in thousands of civil servants, academics, and journalist losing their jobs and facing prison.