7 children among 14 dead in migrant boat sinking off Turkey
Ankara: A wooden boat carrying dozens of migrants sank off the Turkish coast on Wednesday, killing 14 people including seven children stuck inside the vessel’s cabin, officials and reports said.
Turkish coast guards rescued 27 others after the boat went down off the town of Ayvacik on its way to the Greek island of Lesbos.
The boat hit rocks shortly after leaving Ayvacik but continued on its dangerous crossing toward Lesbos, said regional governor Hamza Erkal.
“The boat took a hit, it began to take in water but nevertheless continued on its route,” Erkal told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency. “When it took in more water they tried to return but the boat sank before they could make it back to shore.”
The nationalities of those onboard were not immediately known.
The private Dogan news agency said the children were inside the boat’s cabin when it sank and could not escape. They became the latest of many child victims of the perilous journey. Charity group Save the Children says more than 80 children have died in the past two months trying to reach Greece.
Turkish Coast Guard divers and fishermen searched the waters for more possible victims off Ayvacik, which is a main departure point for those crossing to Lesbos.
So far more than 600,000 people have reached Greece from Turkey this year, with the vast majority aiming to move on to more prosperous countries in northern Europe. Hundreds have died during the crossings, often in unseaworthy boats.
On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed a call on Western nations to share the refugee burden. “This morning another 14 refugees died,” Erdogan said. “Should there be another Aylan for the world to take notice?” Erdogan was referring to the 3-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi whose dead body washed up on a Turkish beach in September.
Turkey is host to more than 2 million refugees from Syria.