Eight migrants drown as boat sinks near Turkey's coast

A Turkish ministry statement said a rubber boat with about 15 people on board went down late on Thursday.

    Turkey is a main crossing point for migrants trying to make their way to Europe to escape violent conflicts or economic hardship [File: AP]
    Turkey is a main crossing point for migrants trying to make their way to Europe to escape violent conflicts or economic hardship [File: AP]

    Eight people, including three women, have drowned after a boat carrying migrants sank off Turkey's Aegean coast, Turkey's Ministry of Interior has said.

    A ministry statement on Friday said a rubber boat with about 15 people on board sank late on Thursday off the coast of Fethiye, in Turkey's southwest.

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    The coastguard dispatched three boats, a team of divers, a plane and a helicopter to the area as soon as it received word of the incident.

    A search-and-rescue mission continued for seven migrants thought to be missing.

    There was no information on the nationalities of the migrants who were on the boat.

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    On December 26, seven people died and 64 were rescued when a boat carrying refugees and migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan sank in eastern Turkey's Lake Van, the governor's office in Bitlis province said.

    Turkey is a main crossing point for migrants trying to make their way to Europe to escape violent conflicts or economic hardship.

    A deal between Turkey and the European Union in 2016 helped stem migration flows, but many asylum-seekers still attempt the dangerous trip across the Aegean Sea to Greek islands.

    Authorities in both Athens and Ankara have reported an increase in migrant arrivals since the summer.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies