City workers shoveled dirt over the two coffins, one at a time, as an imam, in plaintive and meditative tones, sang prayers in Arabic.
“Our Lord, forgive us our sins and remit us from our evil deeds,” he said.
The solemnity of the occasion was made more so for what was absent — tears, loved ones or even the names of the dead, who are each identified only by a number.
Etched on one slab of wood: 42453.
Etched on the other: 42454.
For hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled wars in the Middle East for safety in Europe, this coastal city has been a place of departure. But for hundreds of others, it has become a final resting place.
“We are now faced with entire families drowning at sea, with no one left to claim them,” said Ahmet Altan, the imam at Dogancay Cemetery, which has put aside land to bury the unknown migrants who lose their lives at sea.
As NATO dispatches warships to the Aegean Sea in a new effort to contain the flow of refugees coming through Turkey and on to Europe, the deaths keep piling up: at least 400 so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration. Already in 2016, more than 76,000 people — nearly 3,000 a day — have arrived in Greece from Turkey.