35 migrants drown as boat hits rocks, sinks off Turkey coast

ANKARA, Turkey -- He looks peacefully asleep. But the boy, lying on his back on a rocky Turkish beach, is dead -- and a soul-searing reminder that Europe's migrant crisis keeps destroying lives and families by the day.

See Full Article

The unidentified boy was among at least 35 people who drowned Saturday when their boat struck rocks and capsized at dawn as they attempted the deceptively short crossing from the Turkish coast to the Greek island of Lesbos barely 5 miles (8 kilometres) away. More than 250 have drowned already this month trying to reach one of Greece's offshore islands, entry point to the European Union and its uncertain promise of refuge from war and poverty.

The Turkish coast guard said three ships, a helicopter and team of divers were searching the partially submerged craft and surrounding seas for more bodies as police on shore placed bodies, among them at least five children, in black bags. Journalists at the scene tried to interview some of the 75 survivors, but police took them away in buses, some bound for a local hospital to be treated for hypothermia and other injuries, others into police custody for questioning.

The images of the boy and others on the beach Saturday recalled the photo of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi lying face down on a Turkish beach last year. His story put an intimate face on the Syrian refugee crisis for people across the world.

A Turkish government official said he expects rescue workers to find more dead who were trapped inside the wreckage of the 17-meter (56-foot) boat, which sank shortly after departing from the shore near the Aegean resort of Ayvacik. Saim Eskioglu, deputy governor for the coastal Canakkale province that includes Ayvacik, said the boat "hit rocks soon after it left the coast."

The state-run Anadolu Agency said 39 died. Eskioglu said he suspected that was the total, but 35 bodies had been recovered while the bodies of more victims remained inaccessible inside the sunken vessel.

"There are either three or four more bodies inside the boat, which had two decks. The divers are trying to reach them," Eskioglu told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Eskioglu and Ayvacik's mayor, Mehmet Unal Sahin, said most of the migrants were Syrians. The Anadolu Agency said the boat also bore natives of Afghanistan and Myanmar.

A private Turkish news agency, Dogan, said police arrested a Turkish man suspected of being the smuggler who organized Saturday's failed sea crossing.

Weather conditions did not appear to be a significant factor in the sinking. Journalists at the scene said weather conditions Saturday on the Turkish coast were relatively mild, with light winds and temperatures around 12 degrees Celsius (54 Fahrenheit).

The International Organization for Migration says drowning deaths are running at four times the rate of 2015, when many thousands daily sought to enter the European Union via Turkey by reaching one of more than a dozen offshore Greek islands, chiefly Lesbos.

The agency recorded 805 drowning deaths of migrants on Turkey-Greece sea routes throughout 2015, and a further 218 this month alone excluding the ultimate total of Saturday's tragedy.

Joel Millman, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, said the death toll was "increasing at an alarming rate." He said it was all the more surprising, given the reality that fewer people are attempting the crossing during winter.

Turkey, which is hosting an estimated 2.5 million refugees from Syria, in November agreed to fight smuggling networks and stem the flow of migrants into Europe. In return, the European Union pledged 3 billion euros ($3.25 billion) to help improve the refugees' conditions.

The country says it has started rejecting Syrians who arrive without valid visas via third countries. It also has started to grant work permits to Syrians as an incentive for them to stay put in Turkey.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Conservative MP Kellie Leitch won't run in 2019

    Canada News CBC News
    Conservative MP Kellie Leitch will not seek re-election in 2019, CBC News has confirmed. Leitch, who represents the Ontario riding of Simcoe–Grey, made a failed bid for the party's leadership last year. More to come Source
  • Oklahoma gas rig workers' remains recovered day after explosion

    World News CBC News
    Officials on Tuesday recovered the remains of five gas rig workers who had been missing since a fiery explosion in eastern Oklahoma a day earlier. Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris said once the natural gas drilling rig was stabilized following the blast and subsequent fires, employees from the state medical examiner's office went into the wreckage and recovered the bodies in about two hours. Source
  • Calgary skydiver killed in Southern California roof crash

    Canada News CTV News
    PERRIS, Calif. -- Authorities have identified a skydiver who died when he fell onto the roof of a home in Southern California. The Riverside County coroner's bureau says the man who died Monday afternoon was Aime-Jean St. Source
  • Gay couple sues U.S. government for denying citizenship to one of their twins

    World News CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Ethan and Aiden Dvash-Banks are toddler twins who share almost everything: the same toys, the same nursery, the clothes and the same parents. Everything but a toothbrush and U.S. citizenship. To remedy what their parents, a gay married couple, view as an injustice, Ethan Dvash-Banks became a plaintiff at the tender age of 16 months in a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Source
  • Bodies of B.C. father, teen daughter recovered after ATV accident

    Canada News CTV News
    CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. - A search for a man and his teenage daughter who were swept away while crossing a Vancouver Island creek on an all-terrain vehicle has come to an end after both bodies were found. Source
  • B.C. woman recalls fleeing 1964 tsunami in rowboat after quake

    Canada News CTV News
    VICTORIA -- Lea Gardner remembers getting in a rowboat with her husband, three young children and the family dog to flee a tsunami that hit British Columbia 54 years ago. But the 83-year-old Port Alberni resident says she calmly slept through Tuesday's tsunami warning that prompted evacuations after a magnitude 7.9 earthquake off the coast of Alaska. Source
  • Zamboni McZamboniface? An N.S. arena’s Canadian twist on the viral naming trend

    Canada News CTV News
    Zamboni McZamboniface is a bit of a mouthful, but that could be the name of the new ice resurfacing machine at a Nova Scotia arena if local kids choose to continue a long-running joke. The Dominion Arena in Dominion, N.S. Source
  • U.S. gymnastics doctor to be sentenced Wednesday in sex assault case

    World News CBC News
    A former elite gymnast said Tuesday that a sports doctor who treated Olympic athletes overlooked what turned out to be a broken leg while he molested her in the basement of his home, one of the latest victims to testify at a Michigan sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar. Source
  • Ontario transit agency says it was hit by North Korean cyberattack

    Canada News CBC News
    An Ontario transit agency says it was in the crosshairs of a North Korean cyberattack earlier this month. The attack was a virus, routed through Russia, that infected computers at Metrolinx, according to a source at the agency who spoke on condition of anonymity. Source
  • Ursula K. Le Guin, acclaimed science fiction writer, dead at 88

    World News CBC News
    Prolific science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin has died, CBC Books confirmed through Canadian distributor, Raincoast. She was 88. Le Guin was considered an icon of science fiction and fantasy writing. She published more than 20 novels, a dozen poetry collections, seven essay collections and 13 children's books. Source