Boat collision off Turkish coast kills several refugees

At least 13 refugees die after their boat collides with a ferry off Turkish coast, while dozens are missing off Lesbos.

Turkey - refugees
The events on Sunday highlight the risks that those fleeing conflict and poverty face [Reuters]

At least 13 refugees have died after their boat collided with a ferry off the Turkish coast, officials there said, while the Greek coastguard fanned out in the choppy waters of the Aegean Sea searching for another 27 people missing after their boat sank off the island of Lesbos.

The bodies of the 13 refugees were brought to the Turkish port city of Canakkale on Sunday. 

Turkey’s coastguard agency said that it intervened after being alerted the vessel had hit the migrant boat and that bodies were in the water.

Coastguard officials said some 29 people were rescued in the two incidents, which followed another sinking near Lesbos on Saturday, in which a 5-year-old girl drowned. Between 10 and 12 people went missing.

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Meanwhile, the Libyan coastguard said it rescued 215 refugees Sunday from two boats in the Mediterranean, including more than 50 women, a day after Italy said over 4,500 people were saved off Libya.

The events highlight the risks that those fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia are willing to take in hopes of reaching sanctuary in Europe.


Men, women and children continue to take the perilous sea journey despite the fact that thousands of earlier refugees find themselves blocked by closed border crossings in the Balkans.

Hungary’s decision to shut its border with Serbia on September 15 set off a chain reaction in Croatia and Slovenia that has forced people fleeing violence in their homelands to rush from one European border to the next as they desperately try to find their way north before the rules change again.

Thousands are on the move all over southeastern Europe as authorities struggle to respond. Some 11,000 migrants crossed from Hungary into Austria in the 24-hour period ending on midnight Saturday, with at least another 7,000 expected Sunday.

In the Austrian border village of Nickelsdorf people arrived by foot after completing a half-an-hour walk from the Hungarian town of Hegyeshalom. From there, buses and trains took them to emergency shelters in Vienna and other parts of Austria.

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Meanwhile, leaders all across the region are sniping at one another, underscoring the sense of crisis and disarray.

Razor-wire fences

Hungary’s razor-wire fence is deeply straining its ties with neighbouring countries, who feel the problem of the huge flow of refugees is being unfairly pushed onto them.

After completing a fence along the border with Serbia, Hungary is now building fences along its borders with Croatia and Romania.

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After lashing out against Croatian officials, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto is now trading barbs with his Romanian counterpart over the fence.

Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu on Saturday called the border closure an “autistic and unacceptable act” that violated the spirit of the European Union.

“We would expect more modesty from a foreign minister whose prime minister is currently facing trial,” Szijjarto said. That was a reference to corruption charges filed recently against Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta.

“We are a state that is more than 1,000 years old that throughout its history has had to defend not only itself, but Europe as well many times,” Szijjarto added.

“That’s the way it’s going to be now, whether the Romanian foreign minister likes it or not.”

The Hungarian foreign ministry has called in the Romanian ambassador for a consultation on Monday.

Source: News Agencies