39 dead as refugee boat sinks off western Turkey

Migrants are from Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Syria

39 dead as refugee boat sinks off western Turkey


By Burak Akay


Turkish coast guards have reached the bodies of six more migrants after a refugee boat sank off western Turkey, bringing the current death toll to 39. 

Children are among the dead who drowned off the western province of Canakkale on Saturday.

The Turkish Coast Guard said the victims’ boat had been heading for Lesbos, one of the main Greek islands located just a few kilometers off Turkey’s Aegean coastline.

Among the casualties were people from were Afghanistan, Myanmar and Syria.

According to the coast guard, their vessel set off from near Bademli, a village in Canakkale province, before running into trouble during the crossing and capsizing near Ayvacik district.

The coast guard was able to save 75 people.

Turkish forces are continuing to search for potential survivors as the total number of refugees who were onboard remains unclear.

Turkey’s Aegean provinces -- Canakkale, Balikesir, Izmir, Mugla and Aydin -- are prime spots for refugees leaving for the EU, with many Greek islands lying within sight of the Turkish coast.

Over the past year, hundreds of thousands have made short but perilous journeys in a bid to reach northern and western Europe in search for a better life.

Of the more than 1.1 million refugees who arrived in the EU last year, more than 850,000 arrived by sea to Greece from Turkey, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Over the course of the year, 805 people died in the Aegean.

In the first month of 2016, more than 52,000 people arrived by sea in Greece and 218 have died off the Turkish coast, according to the IOM.

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