Turkish authorities find bodies of 27
migrants, search for survivors
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[January 05, 2016]
By Melih Aslan
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish authorities
said they found the bodies of 27 migrants, at least three of them
children, at two separate locations on the Aegean coast on Tuesday after
a migrant boat apparently capsized as it tried to reach the Greek island
The flow of mostly Syrian refugees and migrants braving the seas
to seek sanctuary in Europe dipped toward the end of last year
coinciding with colder weather, but the total figure still reached 1
million in 2015, nearly five times more than in the previous year.
Seventeen of the bodies were discovered on the shoreline in the
district of Ayvalik, while ten others were found in the district of
Dikili, a gendarmerie official in the local headquarters told
Reuters TV footage showed a body in an orange life jacket lying at
the grey water's edge in Ayvalik, lapped by waves. The nationalities
of those drowned were not immediately clear.
"We heard a boat sank and hit the rocks. I surmise these people died
when they were trying to swim from the rocks. We came here to help
as citizens," an unnamed eyewitness said.
Increased policing on Turkey's shores and colder weather conditions
have not deterred refugees and migrants from the Middle East, Asia
and Africa from embarking on the perilous journey in small, flimsy
The coast guard and gendarmerie rescued 12 people from the sea and
the rocks on the Ayvalik coastline. A coast guard official said
three boats and a helicopter were searching for any survivors.
In a deal struck at the end of November, Turkey promised to help
stem the flow of migrants to Europe in return for cash, visas and
renewed talks on joining the EU.
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Turkey is host to 2.2 million Syrians and has spent around $8.5
billion on feeding and housing them since the start of the civil war
nearly five years ago, but it has been criticized for lacking a
longer term integration strategy to give Syrians a future there.
Almost all of the refugees have no legal work status and the
majority of children do not go to school.
(Additional reporting by Reuters TV and Pictures; Writing by Nick
Tattersall and Dasha Afanasieva; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
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