The Turkish coast guard was continuing search and rescue efforts
where the boat sank off the coast of Ayvacik, a town across from the
Greek island of Lesvos. It was not immediately clear how many
migrants had been on board.
"At least 33 people are dead but I am afraid the numbers will rise
as divers continue the search," Mehmet Unal Sahin, the mayor of
Ayvacik, told CNNTurk news channel by phone.
"Local people woke up to the sound of screaming migrants and we have
been carrying out rescue work since dawn. We have an
80-kilometre-long coast just across from Lesvos, which is very hard
to keep under control."
At least five of those who died were children, the Dogan news agency
said, and rescued migrants were hospitalized with hypothermia
symptoms. It said the migrants were of Syrian, Afghan and Myanmar
More than one million refugees and migrants arrived by land and sea
in the European Union last year and some 3,600 died or went missing.
Around 500,000 refugees from the five-year-old war in Syria traveled
through Turkey and then risked their lives at sea to reach Greek
islands in 2015. Despite the winter conditions and rough seas, the
exodus has continued, albeit at a slower pace.
[to top of second column]
Turkey is the first stop on Syrian migrants' journey to the European
Turkey struck a deal with the EU in November pledging to help stem
the flow of migrants to Europe in return for 3 billion euros ($3.3
billion) in financial aid for the 2.5 million Syrian refugees it is
hosting, as well as renewed talks on joining the 28-nation bloc.
(Writing by Ece Toksabay; editing by Jason Neely)
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