Sinking kills migrants off Turkey

Scores of bodies washed up on the shore after vessel capsizes in the Aegean.

    Coastguards have been using boats and helicopters to search the Aegean coastline [AFP]

    At least one dozen bodies were brought to shore on a boat and placed in black body bags and lined along a dock.

    Rescue effort

    Boats and helicopters are still searching the sea but media reports said that strong winds and rough seas were hampering the rescue effort.

    The group met in Izmir on Saturday evening and were taken to the coast, where they boarded the boat at night but the vessel capsized two hours after setting sail.

    Two of the survivors are known to be Palestinians, and others are thought to be Somalis and Iraqis. 

    Rescuers were also searching for bodies in the areas close to the Greek island of Chios.

    Thousands of immigrants from Asia and Africa pay traffickers for passage to Europe to escape poverty at home.

    Smugglers often take migrants from the Turkish coast to nearby Greek islands on fragile and overcrowded boats, and accidents such as these are not uncommon.

    Morocco sinking

    The sinking came after more than 50 illegal migrants were reported to have been missing on the Moroccan coast over the weekend.

    The Moroccan navy rescued six migrants from the boat, which was headed for the Spanish Canary Islands, state new agency MAP said.

    Turkey, which hopes to join the EU has been urged by the bloc to crack down on illegal immigration.

    Greece, a EU member, has a 13,000km coastline dotted with thousands of islands, and has previously accused Turkish authorities for not doing enough to stop the flow of illegal migrants.

    Turkey has increased patrols along its Aegean and Mediterranean coastlines, but boats still get through.

    Smugglers travel at night to reduce the chances of being detected and choose winter months when Turkey's coasts are deserted.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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