Turkish authorities on Tuesday foiled an attempt to smuggle 276 migrants to Europe on board a ship and detained eight suspected smugglers, The Associated Press reported, citing local media.
Acting on a tipoff, police and coast guard teams carried out an operation on the ship that docked near the coast of Narlıdere, close to the Aegean coastal city of İzmir, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. The boat was preparing to sail with the 276 migrants, including 46 women and 59 children, on board.
The migrants were from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Syria, Somalia and Iran, the report said.
The ship’s destination wasn’t immediately known. But Turkey, which hosts about 3.7 million Syrian refugees, is the main crossing point for migrants trying to reach Europe via Greek islands across from Turkey’s Aegean coast. Others also try to sneak into Greece across a river along the border.
Tuesday’s incident comes as a search mission is underway in eastern Turkey for the wreck of a boat that sank in a lake on June 27, with dozens of migrants believed trapped inside.
So far, authorities have recovered 11 bodies. Five suspected smugglers have been detained in connection with the tragedy.