Coast Guard rescues 38 immigrants off Bodrum coast
MUĞLA – Doğan News Agency
AA PhotoThe Turkish Coast Guard in the southwestern province of Muğla rescued 38 illegal immigrants bound for Italy through the Greek island of Kalimnos on March 22, after a four-hour wait on a small reef.
The 9-meter-long boat carrying 38 Congolese citizens was caught by a storm off the cost of the southwestern Turkish city of Bodrum before crashing into the reef. The immigrants, including two children and nine women, took shelter on a small reef and reportedly waited for four hours to be rescued.
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard arrived at the scene upon the notice of nearby fishermen. They rescued the soaked immigrants, who were then provided with food and water after they had dried. It has been reported were in good health.
A 28-year-old immigrant on board said they risked death for the sake of a peaceful life.
“We were steering the boat ourselves. We saw the island’s [Kalimnos] lights. However, a storm broke out towards morning and we got lost. We saw that we had crashed into a reef and the boat had begun to spring a leak, while we were thinking about where to go. We climbed to the reef and waited for the daylight. Then soldiers came and rescued us. It was so cold,” said the immigrant, adding they had no other choice but to escape.
The incident marks the third attempt by illegal immigrants to seek refuge abroad off Turkish coasts in recent weeks.
On March 17, a vessel carrying about 15 Syrian and Iraqi migrants capsized off the Bodrum coast while proceeding toward the Greek island of Kos, killing at least five people.
On the same day, 46 Syrian migrants were caught in a separate illegal immigrant operation carried out by the Coast Guard in Bodrum while again trying to get to the Greek island of Kos. But this time, the Coast Guard spotted the vessel and rescued all the migrants on board.
In addition, a total of 337 migrants, including 85 children and 68 women, were captured from a Turkish-flagged cargo ship in the Dardanelles Strait on March 12. Meanwhile, Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano thanked Turkey for its efforts to prevent “ghost ships” from illegally carrying migrants to Italy.
Fifteen vessels dubbed “ghost ships” reached Italy from Turkey between September 2014 and January.