Sixty dead as illegal migrant boat sinks off Turkey
ANKARA: Sixty people drowned Thursday after a boat carrying illegal migrants trying to reach Europe capsized in waters off western Turkey, the state news agency Anatolia reported.
Among the dead were 28 children and 18 women, Anatolia said after initially putting the toll at 58.
Forty-six people were rescued alive, including two Turkish crew members, the captain and his mate, who were both detained for crimes of human trafficking, Anatolia said.
The boat hit rocks after leaving Ahmetbeyli on Turkey’s western coast, Tahsin Kurtbeyoglu, the governor of the Menderes district in Izmir province, told the private NTV television network.
The migrants came from the Palestinian territories, Iraq and Syria, Kurtbeyoglu later told Anatolia.
According to initial accounts, migrants said they had stayed in hotels in Izmir province, where they linked up with human traffickers with hopes of travelling to Britain, CNN-Turk television reported.
The toll was so high because most of the migrants, including children and babies, were locked below decks, Anatolia said. Some people from other parts of the boat survived after swimming to shore.
Kurtbeyoglu said the capacity of the boat was unknown, but estimated it may have sunk because it was overloaded.
Anatolia said the rescue operation inside the boat was over but the ocean search for survivors was ongoing.
Turkey is a main hub for illegal migration and neighbouring Greece is the busiest entry point for migrants entering European Union.