By Murat Demirci
LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
At least 19 undocumented migrants drowned after their boat sank off the coast of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday, officials said.
Northern Cypriot Coast Guard teams said 103 of the migrants had been rescued, while 25 of them are reported missing off the coast of the town of Yeni Erenkoy.
Coast guard teams from Turkey also took part in the search and rescue operation, as the area is in Turkey’s rescue zone as well.
According to a statement by the Turkish Coast Guard Command, the migrants, including a child and a woman, were Syrian nationals.
One of the drowned women was pregnant, the statement said, adding that there was a shortage of life jackets.
Nineteen bodies and 102 rescued migrants were brought to Tasucu port in Silifke district of Turkey’s southern Mersin province, while one rescued migrant had to be transferred to a hospital in a helicopter in Northern Cyprus' city of Girne.
Thirty-one migrants were taken to hospitals by ambulances waiting at the port. The Turkish Red Crescent provided meals to those who did not need medical care.
The search for the missing people is ongoing.
According to the UN's International Organization for Migration, more than 1,400 migrants have died in the Mediterranean since the beginning of 2018.