Latest boat accidents kill eight migrants off western Turkey
FILE Migrants and refugees arrive on a rubber dinghy and a boat (back) on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey on November 21, 2015. AFP Photo
Eight migrants – five of them children – drowned in two separate boat accidents off Turkey’s Aegean coast early Dec. 18.
Four Iraqi migrants, including two children, drowned after a Greece-bound boat capsized off the Turkish resort town of Bodrum early Dec. 18.
The boat, carrying a total of eight Iraqi migrants, capsized off the Aegean province of Muğla, leaving four dead, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
The Turkish Coast Guard rescued the other four migrants from the boat, which departed from Bodrum’s Turgutreis neighborhood to reach the Greek island of Kos.
One suspect has reportedly been detained for organizing the illegal journey.
In a separate incident, four Syrian migrants – three of them children - drowned early Dec. 18 after a migrant boat bound for the Greek island of Farmakonisi capsized in international waters off Bodrum’s Yalıkavak neighborhood, Doğan News Agency reported, citing Greek news website Leros News.
The bodies of the dead migrants were taken to the Greek island of Leros and then to Rhodes for medical examination, according to the report.
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 migrants looking to illegally cross into the EU, fleeing the violence in Iraq and Syria and seeking a higher standard of living.
The wave of migration across the Aegean Sea has often resulted in injuries and deaths due to either the capsizing of migrant-carrying boats or abuse of migrants by human traffickers.
The number of migrants saved after making failed attempts to cross via sea from Turkey into 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 years.