Seven die as boat sinks off western Turkey

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Children among the dead in latest refugee tragedy in the Aegean

By Sinan Ozmus, Ali Balli

MUGLA, Turkey – Seven refugees, including children, have drowned in the Aegean Sea after their boat sank, according to official sources.

The Turkish Coast Guard said that the boat, which left from western province of Mugla’s Bodrum district, had been en route to Greece’s Kos Island — one of the preferred destinations for refugees trying to reach the European Union.

Kos and other Greek islands lie just a few kilometers from the Turkish coast, making them attractive destinations for refugees seeking to enter the EU.

The authorities said that one of two people rescued in the incident was a 27-year-old Iranian woman.

Over the past year, hundreds of thousands have made short but perilous journeys across the Aegean in a bid to reach northern and western Europe in search for a better life. Worsening weather conditions in the winter make the trip even more dangerous.

Of the more than one million refugees who arrived in the EU last year, more than 850,000 arrived by sea in Greece from Turkey, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Over the course of the year, 805 people died in the Aegean.

In the first two weeks of 2016, more than 23,000 people arrived by sea in Greece and 50 have died, the IOM said.

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