14 dead in migrant boat accident off Aegean town
DHA photoAt least 14 migrants have died and 27 others have been rescued after a Greece-bound boat capsized off Turkey’s Aegean coast, Doğan News Agency has reported.
The migrant boat traveling to the Greek island of Lesbos capsized off Ayvacık, an Aegean district in the northwestern province of Çanakkale, early Nov. 11, leaving at least 14 migrants dead, seven of which were reported to be children.
Twenty-seven other migrants, including a pregnant woman, were rescued by the Turkish coast guard after the capsizing of the wooden boat, which began its dangerous journey from an area between Ayvacık’s Babakale and Şirince villages.
The migrants who survived the capsizing were taken to hospital and reported to be in good condition.
The boat reportedly capsized because of bad weather conditions and heavy storms.
The search and rescue efforts were reported to be ongoing.
The state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Çanakkale Gov. Hamza Erkal as saying the migrants wanted to sail back to the shore after the boat took on too much water, “but it sank failing to reach the shore.”
“The boat probably sank after hitting rocks,” Erkal added.
The wooden boat carrying 41 migrants hit rocks shortly after it sailed out of a port in Babakale at around 10:00 p.m., according to a Doğan News Agency report.
Geographically located between war-torn Syria and Iraq in the southeast and the European Union member states of Bulgaria and Greece in the northwest, Turkey has come to be a transition point for foreign migrants looking to illegally cross into the EU in an endeavor to flee the violence in Iraq and Syria, as well as find a higher standard of living.
The wave of migration across the Aegean Sea, however, has often resulted in injuries and even deaths due to either the capsizing of migrant-carrying boats or abuse of migrants by human traffickers.
In the northwestern province of Edirne, a Turkish province bordering Greece, 24 Syrian migrants, including 14 children, were captured late Nov. 10 after eyewitnesses informed the police of migrants with backpacks walking the streets of the Talatpaşa neighborhood in the direction to the Greek border.
The migrants were then taken to the Edirne Migration Management Directorate to be sent to the provinces defined on their migrant identity cards.
Migrant identity cards have recently been introduced by the Turkish Interior Ministry to provide legal ground for Syrian migrants to reside in Turkish provinces as well as to prevent illegal crossings into other countries.
Meanwhile, Basmane, a neighborhood in the Aegean province of İzmir, has become tranquil as Syrian migrants have flocked to coastal towns to make their way to Greece.
Basmane once was a hotspot for Syrian migrants, with many hotels running at full capacity and starting expansion for extra rooms to meet the demand. Many others who failed to find accommodation opted to sleep on the streets.