Tragedies at sea: 35 migrants drown in two accidents off Turkey

By AFP
Published: February 9, 2016
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Ambulance personnel ferry migrants rescued at sea by a helicopter, to a waiting ambulance, in Balikesir. PHOTO: AFP

Ambulance personnel ferry migrants rescued at sea by a helicopter, to a waiting ambulance, in Balikesir. PHOTO: AFP

ISTANBUL: 

At least 35 migrants drowned in two accidents in the Aegean Sea on Monday as they tried to cross from Turkey to Greece, Turkish media said.

Twenty-four died when their boat sank off the district of Edremit in the western province of Balikesir in an apparent bid to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.

Four people were rescued both by air and by sea in a search and rescue operation by the Turkish coastguard, Dogan news agency said.

The accident came shortly after 11 migrants died in another boat sinking further south, off the port city of Izmir, also apparently trying to reach Lesbos, the agency said.

The coastguard rescued three people.

Turkey, which is hosting at least 2.5 million refugees from Syria’s civil war, has become the main launchpad for migrants fleeing conflict, persecution and poverty to Europe.

The deaths came as German Chancellor Angela Merkel was meeting Turkish officials in Ankara for talks on reducing the influx of migrants to Europe.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said the number of refugees and migrants who perished in the Mediterranean in January alone topped 360.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th,  2016.

 

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