By Efsun Yilmaz and Ferdi Uzun
AYDIN, IZMIR, Turkey
Nine people including children died as a boat carrying irregular migrants sank off Turkey’s Aegean coast of Aydin province, local officials said on Thursday.
The boat carrying 13 migrants capsized off Kusadasi district as it attempted to illegally cross to Europe.
Turkish Coast Guard Command sent a rescue team backed by a helicopter and a plane to the site in the wee hours of Thursday, according to a statement.
Four people were rescued but nine others were found dead in the sea.
The fatalities include seven children and two women, Kusadasi district governor told Anadolu Agency.
Turkey has been the main route for irregular migrants trying to cross into Europe, especially since 2011 when the Syrian civil war began.
Of the migrants held in Turkey last year, the majority came from Pakistan -- around 15,000 -- followed by Afghans at around 12,000. Syrians totaled about 10,000.
There has been a 60-percent increase in migrant flow since 2016. The number was 31,000 in 2016.