Six İskenderun students drown during picnic event

Six teenagers attending a picnic organized by a school offering courses on the Quran »»

Six teenagers attending a picnic organized by a school offering courses on the Quran drowned over the weekend in İskenderun, Hatay, when they were swept away by strong currents after going for a swim in the sea.

The students, aged between 13 and 15, were students at a boarding school teaching the Quran in Kırıkhan, a district of Hatay. They attended a picnic near a beach in the Karaağaç area in İskenderun on May 20, 2012, in the vicinity of the Dicle residential complex. According to eyewitnesses, some of the picnicking students entered the water.

Six of the children, who were not strong swimmers, were killed in the powerful current. Two others were rescued by passers-by.

Hatay Governor Mehmet Celalettin Lekesiz confirmed the deaths, offering his condolences to the grieving families.

Civil defense teams retrieved five of the bodies from the water. The sixth body was recovered two hours later.

The bodies of Eyyüp Can Seher, Ramazan Duran Güven, Mustafa Pul, Mehmet Bilgin, İzzet Zorba and Ömer Faruk Kurtar were taken to İskenderun State Hospital and returned to their families in the evening.

Fecri Firket Çelik, district governor for Kırıkhan, said the group visiting the district for a picnic on Sunday consisted of 18 students and one supervisor.

Funerals for the six victims were held after the noon prayer in their respective home towns on Monday.

Funerals for five of the six victims were held on Monday, after the noon prayer in their respective hometowns.

Funerals for Eyyüp Can Seher (16) and Ramazan Duran Güven (17) were held in İskenderun. The funeral of Ömer Faruk Kurter was held in Kırıkhan. While Mustafa Kul’s funeral was held in Mayadalı, a village in Altınözü. Local officials also attended the funerals.

Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputies Orhan Karasayar and Hacı Bayram Türkoğlu visited the home of Mehmet Bilgin (16) shortly after his funeral in Ovakent. The teenager’s father, Abdullah Bilgin, (38), told journalists that the family was not planning to file a complaint against the executives of the school, saying they believed their son had become a martyr.

He said Mehmet Bilgin had been a student of the Kırıkhan Boarding Quran Course school for a year. “We wanted him to continue school, but he wanted to study to become a hafiz. He had just joined the hafiz group, but it wasn’t in his fate. We believe he became a martyr.”



Columnist: TODAY'S ZAMAN