Migrants die as boats sink off Turkey coast

  • 12/11/2015

Eighteen migrants, among them at least seven children, have drowned after their boats sank off Turkey's Aegean coast while trying to make the short but perilous crossing to Greece, the latest fatalities in Europe's refugee crisis.

In Wednesday's deadliest incident, the coastguard said it recovered the bodies of 14 people from a wooden boat which was heading from the western province of Canakkale to the Greek island of Lesbos when it crashed into rocks and took on water.

Another four perished when their vessel sank off the coast of Izmir, a province further south, the coastguard said.

"Must there be another Aylan for the world to wake up? Humanity is watching from the sidelines," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on hearing of the latest tragedies.

He was referring to three-year-old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi, whose body was pictured washed up on a Turkish beach in September in images that shocked the world, pressuring European leaders to step up their response to the crisis.

Turkey, which is hosting 2.2 million refugees from the conflict in neighbouring Syria, has become the main transit point for people fleeing war and misery for a better life in Europe.

Dogan news agency said seven children were among those who died on the boat that sank off Canakkale while 27 people were rescued, among them a pregnant woman.

Survivors were taken to a nearby medical centre and were said to be in good condition.

Coastguard workers backed by helicopters were continuing a search for one person still believed to be missing.

The coastguard said fisherman rescued another 22 from the boat off Izmir, while the hunt was going on for two missing.

The latest tragedy came as European leaders were due to meet African counterparts in Malta to discuss the migration crisis.