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

  • German government talks collapse after small party walks out

    World News CTV News
    BERLIN -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged early Monday to maintain stability after the Free Democratic Party pulled out of talks on forming a new government with her conservative bloc and the left-leaning Greens, raising the possibility of new elections. Source
  • New housing strategy to build 80K affordable rental units for Canadians 'feeling the pinch'

    Canada News CBC News
    Those struggling to keep a roof over their heads — whether looking to ease the burden of monthly rent payments or in desperate need of help to get off the streets — will find out later this week how the Liberal government hopes to deal with Canada's ever-present shortage of affordable housing. Source
  • Canada's Zimbabwean community disappointed with Mugabe speech

    Canada News CTV News
    Members of Canada's Zimbabwean community have been waiting days for news the country's president for 37 years would resign, so when word finally came that Robert Mugabe would make the announcement in a live broadcast on Sunday, they made sure they tuned in. Source
  • Stampede in Morocco kills 15, injures 10

    World News CTV News
    MARRAKECH, Morocco -- A stampede erupted while food aid was being distributed in a Moroccan village Sunday and at least 15 people died and 10 were injured, authorities said. The crush took place in Sidi Boulalam as a local association was handing out food at a local weekly "souk," or market, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. Source
  • France wrestles with the line between seduction, harassment

    World News CTV News
    PARIS -- France is in a bind over where seduction ends and sexual harassment begins. Since the allegations of rape and sexual harassment emerged against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, the country synonymous with love has been stumbling as it addresses the issue of sexual harassment and violence against women. Source
  • Afghanistan looks to Canada for more training support

    Canada News CBC News
    One of the leading figures in Afghanistan's national government insists his war-torn country must be put back at the forefront of NATO's efforts to defeat terrorist groups in the Middle East and South Asia. Abdullah Abdullah, the government's chief executive and one of the featured speakers this weekend at the Halifax International Security Forum, says the new NATO focus on Iraq left his country vulnerable to greater terrorist activity. Source
  • Trump says he should have left UCLA players in Chinese jail

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump says he should have left three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China in jail. Trump's tweet Sunday comes after the father of player LiAngelo Ball minimized Trump's involvement in winning the players' release in comments to ESPN. Source
  • Ottawa to apologize for persecuting LGBT public servants

    Canada News CBC News
    Martine Roy was just 20 years old and less than a year into her chosen career as a medical assistant with the Canadian Armed Forces at CFB Borden when military police suddenly showed up at her workplace to arrest her. Source
  • Argonauts reach Grey Cup after surviving epic Roughriders' comeback

    Canada News CBC News
    Cody Fajardo's one-yard TD run with 23 seconds remaining rallied the Toronto Argonauts to a wild 25-21 East Division final win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday afternoon. Toronto returns to the Grey Cup for the first time since winning the historic 100th championship game in 2012 at Rogers Centre. Source
  • 'Talking will help': Edmonton man speaks out about recovery from childhood sexual abuse

    Canada News CBC News
    Neil Campbell was 12 years old and sitting in bed reading a comic book when he was suddenly crushed by a wave of fear, anger and confusion. Three years earlier, he was raped numerous times by a teenaged neighbour in a shed near his home. Source