7 migrants perish in boat tragedy off Turkish coast

Turkish coastguard boat proceeds to check a inflatable boat at the sea between Lesbos island and the Turkish coast as part of operations to prevent boats of refugees of reaching the Greek coast on March 6, 2020. LOUISA GOULIAMAKI / AFP

A life raft carrying migrants crashed into rocks off Turkey’s Aegean coastal town of Cesme on Tuesday, killing seven people on board, the Turkish coast guard said, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Associated Press.

One person was rescued from the sea by a fishing boat, which then alerted the coast guard. Eighteen others, including children, were rescued from the small island of Karaada near Cesme.

Search and rescue efforts continued for one missing person, the coast guard said in a statement.

The coast guard reported that survivors claimed Greek authorities put them in a life raft and left them to drift near Turkish territorial waters. The raft struck rocks and sank.

Turkey regularly accuses Greece of engaging in “pushbacks,” or summary deportations of migrants without access to asylum procedures required by international law. Greece denies sending newly arrived migrants back to Turkey.

Greece serves as a major entry point for migrants seeking a better life in the European Union, with most entering illegally from Turkey aboard precarious boats supplied by traffickers.

A video shared by Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya on X showed a coast guard boat rescuing migrants, including children, from the island.

The rescued migrants were in good health, according to the coast guard statement.

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