Four refugees drown, nine missing as boat capsizes in Aegean Sea

Four refugees drown, nine missing as boat capsizes in Aegean Sea

AYDIN – Anadolu Agency
Four refugees drown, nine missing as boat capsizes in Aegean Sea

Refugees and migrants arrive in the island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey, on December 8, 2015. At least six children died on December 7, 2015 when a boat carrying Afghan migrants sank in Turkish waters while on its way to Greece, local media reported. AFP / ARIS MESSINIS

Four migrants have been killed while nine remain missing after their boat capsized off Turkey’s Aegean coast.

A boat smuggling Iraqi migrants from Turkey’s Aegean Aydın province to Greece capsized near Bulamaç Island, early on Dec. 10. 

Turkish and Greek coast guards launched a rescue operation in the region and retrieved the bodies of four refugees. The Turkish Coast Guard also rescued two refugees, as five others managed to swim to the Turkish mainland. 

Rescue operations are continuing as nine migrants are still reportedly missing. 

With its strategic location between Europe and the Middle East, as well as a long border with war-torn Syria and Iraq, Turkey has become a transit point for refugees seeking to cross into the European Union. 

The eastern Mediterranean route has become the primary migration route in 2015, leaving behind the Central Mediterranean route, as more than 350,000 migrants had crossed to Greece by September this year, according to the Migration Policy Institute. 

Meanwhile, 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 years.