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Nightmares plague Eritrean shipwreck survivors

Teklemariam Bekit

BBC Tigrinya

Bokuresion Tsegezeab (R) and Bekri Mohammed (third from L) and other Eritreans who survived the shipwreck in a hospital in Tripoli, Libya
Bokuresion Tsegezeab
Bokuresion Tsegezeab (right) and Bekri Mohammed (third from left) with others from Eritrea who survived the wreck

Two Eritreans who survived one of the most deadly shipwrecks off Libya have told the BBC they still have nightmares about their horrific experience.

At least 115 people died when the vessel with about 300 migrants on board sank in July.

Bokuresion Tsegezeab and Bekri Mohammed, who are still in hospital in the capital Tripoli recovering from the ordeal, said they were desperate and disorientated when they decided to board the wooden ship.

They had been held for the last two years in a detention centre in al Khoms, some 120km (75 miles) east Tripoli, where they were locked up with little daylight.

“We boarded the ship to escape the dreadful life we experienced for the past two years,” says Mr Bokuresion.

The pair confirmed that they had paid the smugglers, but did not specify how much.

The smugglers had told them that the ship, which they boarded at about 23:00 local time one night in July, was in a suitable condition to cross the Mediterranean.

Bokuresion Tsegezeab
Bokuresion Tsegezeab
Bokuresion Tsegezeab says a passing merchant ship refused to help when their vessel got into trouble

But three hours into their journey, water started seeping and then gushing into the ship.

“We tried to remove the water using buckets but quickly the water engulfed the ship,” said Mr Bokuresion.

A merchant ship was passing by at the time and everyone shouted for help, but it ignored their pleas, he said.

Then their vessel started to sink and break up prompting all on board to jump off into the sea.

No-one had life jackets so everyone was desperate to find something to hold on to in the water.

Bekri Mohammed
Bokuresion Tsegezeab
Bekri Mohammed says he cannot remember much about the ordeal after the ship went down

Mr Bokuresion said he first grabbed on to a small broken jerrycan but to stop himself being dragged down by others he moved to a piece of floating wood, which he managed to hold on to all night.

“I only survived because God wanted me to survive, because I never learnt how to swim.”

Mr Bekri admits he cannot remember much about the seven hours that passed before help arrived.

They were eventually rescued by passing fishermen who took them to a police station in Tripoli.

They needed immediate medical attention because they were all vomiting from all the water they had swallowed.

It has been a month since the shipwreck but the two friends are still traumatised and uncertain about their futures.

“I have not slept a good sleep since then. The faces of my friends and fellow travellers come to my dreams," says Mr Bokuresion.

“I am also worried about my life. What will happen to me? We don’t know what to do.”

He went from stacking shelves to a doctor of psychiatry

Aged 17, Ahmed Hankir left war torn Lebanon with a dream
At the age of 17 Ahmed Hankir left his family in Beirut as the brutal civil war raged across Lebanon.

When he arrived in the UK, he worked stacking shelves at a supermarket and at fast food restaurants, but never listened when people told him he couldn't study to become a doctor.

When he recently worked his first shift as an on call psychiatrist at St Thomas Hospital in London, he tweeted "I know what happiness feels like" - soon going viral. 

Dr Ahmed Hankir spoke to Newsday about the challenges he overcame to realise his dream.

(Photo: Dr Ahmed Hankir with colleagues. Credit: Courtesy of Dr Ahmed Hankir)

Five young people killed in stampede at Algeria rap concert

Thousands were attending the Soolking event in Algiers
Five young people have been killed and twenty-one injured at a rap concert in Algeria. 

Thousands of people had gathered at the entrance of a stadium in the capital, Algiers to see the local rap star, Abderraouf Derradji, best known as 'Soolking'. 

Linda Chebbah is a journalist who was at the concert as the incident happened.

She tells Newsday: “There were way too many people for this stadium. On the pitch, people were jostling for space. There were so many people at the concert, that I’m not surprised an accident happened.”

(Photo: The Soolking concert in Algiers. Credit: Linda Chebbah)

Deadly stampede at Algeria rap concert

At least five people have been killed in a stampede at a rap concert in Algeria’s capital, Algiers, medical officials say.

At least 20 others were injured as thousands gathered at the entrance of a stadium to see a local rap star, Abderraouf Derradji, who is best known as “Soolking”.

Details are sketchy about how the stampede broke out.

The injured were evacuated to a nearby hospital.

The concert, which went ahead, was televised live on an Algerian music Canal Algérie.

Some tweeters posted clips from the concert:

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