9 die as migrant boat sinks off Turkey’s Aegean coast

File photo.

Nine people including children died as a boat carrying irregular migrants sank off the coast of Turkey’s Aydın province, local officials said on Thursday.

The boat carrying 13 migrants capsized off Kuşadası as it attempted to illegally cross to Europe. The Turkish Coast Guard Command sent a rescue team backed by a helicopter and a plane to the scene in the early hours of Thursday, according to a statement. Four people were rescued, but the bodies of nine others were recovered from the sea.

The fatalities include seven children and two women, the Kuşadası district governor told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.

Turkey has been the main route for irregular migrants trying to cross into Europe, especially since 2011 when the Syrian civil war began.

Of the migrants held in Turkey last year, the majority came from Pakistan, at around 15,000, followed by Afghans with some 12,000. Syrians totaled about 10,000. There has been a 60 percent increase in migrant flow since 2016. The number was 31,000 in 2016.

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