Refugee boat sinks off Turkish coast, 2 Syrian girls die

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Two Syrian girls, aged 7 and 11, have drowned when an inflatable boat carrying refugees sank off Turkey’s southern coast; 18 others have been rescued

ANTALYA, Turkey  – At least two children died when an inflatable boat carrying Syrian refugees sank off Turkey’s southern coast early Tuesday, the regional governor’s office said. 

Turkish Coast Guard found the dead bodies of two girls, aged 7 and 11, following the incident off Sariada in Kas town, according to a statement issued by the Antalya Governor’s Office. 

The Coast Guard rescued 18 people, and a search-and-rescue operation was currently underway to find three missing refugees, it said. 

The refugees were en route to Greece when the Turkish Coast Guard was alerted of a drifting refugee boat at around 1.40 a.m. local time (2340GMT), it added.

Thousands of refugees and asylum seekers are still trying to find a passage to western European countries through the Greek islands – the main entry point from the Middle East.

Some 185 refugee children have died in the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece in 2015 so far, United Nations Children’s Fund said on Dec. 2.

According to the International Organization for Migration, the total number of people crossing the Mediterranean Sea in 2015 has reached 878,000, which is four times higher than last year.

So far, some 3,563 people have died crossing the Mediterranean; 589 of these deaths have been in waters between Greece and Turkey.

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