GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Some 60 migrants seeking refuge in Europe died when a fishing boat they were traveling in hit rocks and sank off the western coast of Turkey, early Thursday 6 September.
According to various official reports, many of the passengers, including children, were trapped in a lower deck. A few dozen survivors were able to swim to shore about 50 meters from where the boat had sunk. Divers attempted to find survivors in the trapped vessel which lay just below the surface of the water.
Tahsin Kurtbeyoglu, governor of the Menderes district in Turkey’s western Izmir province, said most of the migrants appeared to be Palestinian, and that authorities were trying to determine the nationalities of the others. Turkish media reported that some passengers were Iraqi and Syrian.
The boat’s captain and his assistant, who are both Turkish, were placed under arrest.
The accident occurred only a few kilometers from the Greek island of Samos. Many African and Asian migrants have transited through Turkey as they have sought entry into the European Union. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that Turkey is currently hosting are over 80,000 Syrian refugees.