Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Dozens of migrants drown off Turkey

Coast guards search for survivors after at least 58 illegal immigrants drowned when a fishing boat sank after hitting rocks off the coast near Izmir, Turkey(AP Photo/Hurriyet)

Dozens of people have drowned after a fishing boat carrying migrants that smugglers had promised refuge in Europe sank after hitting rocks off the coast of western Turkey.

Officials say survivors, mostly from Iraq and Syria, were able to swim through the Aegean waters to shore, only 50 metres (160ft) away.

The website of Hurriyet newspaper said today that 58 people died.

The survivors said several people had been trapped below the deck of the submerged vessel, and divers launched an operation to try to find them.

Many on board were women and children. The group had previously made their way to hotels in the city of Izmir, where smugglers agreed to take them to Britain.

Authorities arrested two Turkish suspects in the smuggling operation, Turkey's TRT television reported.

Illegal immigrants from Asia and Africa have long sought to reach Europe by passing through Turkey, and their desperate efforts have occasionally ended in disaster.

Turkey is now hosting 80,000 Syrians who have fled the civil war in their country, and some countries are concerned that larger numbers of Syrians could try to reach Europe illegally.

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