ISTANBUL: Nine migrants, including six children, seeking to head to Europe in a speedboat drowned on Sunday when the vessel sank off Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, state media reports said.
The boat hit trouble off the Demre district of Turkey’s Mediterranean Antalya province, a popular holiday spot, the state-run Anadolu news agency said. Five were rescued while one person was still missing, it added.
Two adults, one woman and six children lost their lives, it said.
The Dogan news agency said that they were seeking to head illegally to Europe but their planned route was not immediately clear.
The nearest EU territory is the small Greek island of Kastellorizo to the west which lies off the Turkish resort of Kas.
The nationalities of those on board have yet to be made clear.
Over a million people, many fleeing the war in Syria, crossed to European Union member Greece from Turkey in 2015 after the onset of the bloc’s worst migration crisis since World War II.
Turkey struck a deal with the EU in 2016 in a effort to stem the flow of migrants into Europe, and agreed to take back illegal migrants landing on Greek islands in exchange for incentives including financial aid.
The deal, chastised by rights groups, sharply curbed the number of migrants seeking to cross the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas from Turkey to Greece.
However observers say that the numbers seeking to cross this route have been ticking up again in recent months.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), 10,948 people crossed to Greece this year up to May 30, sharply more than in the same period in 2017. Thirty-five people lost their lives using this route so far this year.—AFP