Three drown as refugee boat sinks off Turkish coast


Turkish Coast Guard rescues 12 people from sinking fiberglass craft in Aegean Sea

IZMIR, Turkey – Three more people have drowned off Turkey’s Aegean coast after a fiberglass boat carrying refugees sank on Sunday, the Turkish Coast Guard has reported.

The boat carrying 15 people, mostly Syrian nationals, had set off from Tekagac in southwestern Aydin province to reach neighboring Greece.

Coast guards rescued 12 people from the sinking boat but also recovered the bodies of three women.

Search efforts ended after the refugees told the authorities there were no more people at sea.

The incident comes only one day after 36 people died in the Aegean Sea while trying to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.

Turkey’s Aegean provinces — Canakkale, Balikesir, Izmir, Mugla and Aydin — are prime spots for refugees leaving for the EU, with many Greek islands lying within sight of the Turkish coast.

Over the past year, hundreds of thousands have made short-but-perilous journeys in a bid to reach northern and western Europe in search for a better life.

Of the more than 1.1 million refugees who arrived in the EU last year, more than 850,000 arrived by sea to 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 month of 2016, more than 52,000 people arrived by sea in Greece, according to the IOM; more than 200 have died off the Turkish coast.