13 migrants killed as two boats capsize off Aegean coast
A total of 13 migrants, including seven children, were killed early on Dec. 9 after two separate boats capsized off Turkey’s Aegean coast. The incidents come amid a new spate of deaths in the sea dividing Turkey and Greece, as the wave of migrants trying to reach Europe continues into the winter.
A wooden boat, thought to have set sail from the Didim district of Aydın province, capsized off the Greek island of Farmakonisi at around 4 a.m, Doğan News Agency reported. Twelve of the 50 migrants, including six children and two women, were later found dead.
The Greek coast guard rescued 26 migrants from the capsized boat, while 13 others are still missing.
A Greek army helicopter was pressed into service with a vessel from the European Union’s border agency Frontex to aid the search, according to Agence France-Presse.
The dead also included two women and four men.
Witnesses said the boat had sunk despite a calm sea and light winds.
Meanwhile, a six-month-old migrant baby was found dead off the Aegean coast after another migrant boat bound for Farmakonisi capsized on Dec. 8 at around 10 p.m. The Turkish coast guard reportedly rescued 18 migrants, including six children, after that capsizing.
Also on Dec. 8, at least six children died when a boat carrying Afghan migrants sank in Aegean Sea en route to Greece, while another vessel sank elsewhere Aegean, killing another child.
The Turkish coast guard recovered the bodies of the children, including a baby, and were still looking for two other migrants reported missing, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
The dead body of a 5-year-old girl washed up on a beach in the Aegean province of İzmir, while six other refugees were also found dead after an inflatable boat capsized off İzmir’s Çeşme district.
The body of 5-year-old girl Sajida Ali washed up on the Pırlanta Beach in Çeşme on Dec. 7. Ali’s body was taken to the İzmir Forensic Institute for medical examination.
Her death comes few months after images of the lifeless body of Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi sent shockwaves throughout the world after washing ashore in the Turkish resort town of Bodrum in early September.
In yet another incident, six Afghan migrants drowned in the Aegean Sea after an inflatable migrant boat capsized off Çeşme early on Dec. 8. The Turkish coast guard rescued eight other migrants, all wearing life jackets, while the bodies of the six were taken to the İzmir Forensic Institute, Doğan News Agency reported.
Geographically located between war-torn Syria and Iraq in the southeast and the EU member states of Bulgaria and Greece in the northwest, Turkey has become a transition point for foreign migrants looking to illegally cross into the EU in an endeavor to flee the violence in Iraq and Syria, well as gain a higher standard of living.
The wave of migration across the Aegean Sea has often resulted in injuries and even deaths due to either the capsizing of migrant-carrying boats or the abuse of refugees by human traffickers.
The number of migrants saved after making failed attempts to cross via the sea from Turkey to Europe has increased by over 500 percent in 2015 compared to last year.
In 2014, the number of migrants rescued by Turkey’s Coast Guard and local institutions was 14,961, in 574 separate incidents, according to Prime Ministry figures.
So far this year, the number is 79,489 migrants in 2,133 incidents. In addition, more than 200 smuggling gangs have been targeted in security operations launched by the authorities over the last two year