The last time Gholam saw his wife and two children was in the brief moment before a high wave split their boat in half and catapulted the dozens of people on board towards the sea.
In the chaos of October 16, 2015, Gholam, an Afghan refugee from Kabul, held his eldest son's head above water so that he could breathe. But overcome by rough winds and unable to see in the darkness, he could not find his wife, their four-year-old son or their nine-year-old daughter. More than a year later, he still recalls desperately hanging on to a piece of wreckage as the shards of wood dug into his palms and feet.
Gholam, his son and others were eventually rescued when a large ship crossed their path and transferred them to the Turkish coastguard. A 24-hour search-and-rescue patrol found some of the missing alive and others dead, but Gholam's wife and two young children were not among them.
"I thought, if they died, then where are their bodies?" Gholam said, speaking to Al Jazeera under a pseudonym. As weeks passed with no word, he took matters into his own hands, starting to search for his family on his own.
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