ANKARA — At least 39 people were dead and many more were missing after a boat carrying illegal migrants sank off Turkey’s western Aegean coast this morning, a district governor said.
Tahsin Kurtbeyoglu, the governor of Menderes, a coastal district in Izmir province, told state television TRT he expected the death toll to rise.
Television footage showed small boats searching for survivors close to the shore.
Turkey’s location as a bridge from Asia to Europe, as well as its relative wealth compared to neighbouring states, has long made it both a destination and transit point for migrants from as far afield as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
TRT reported that 45 people had been rescued alive and that the boat had sunk around dawn after travelling just 50 meters from the coast.
It said two people had been arrested in connection with the incident and that the nationalities of those on board had not yet been established. (Reuters)