Ankara: (1:55 p.m.)
In Turkey, The International Organization for Migration estimates that 3,771 migrants died while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe last year. The final number for 2015 released Tuesday is up from the 3,692 figure the agency released before Christmas. The IOM said last year was the deadliest on record for migrants crossing the Mediterranean, with the number of deaths rising from 3,279 in 2014.
At the same time, there was an enormous increase last year in people making the often-dangerous crossing. IOM’s final tally for the number of people who arrived in Europe by sea last year was 1,004,356 — a nearly fivefold increase over the previous year’s 219,000. The IOM says 77 percent of the deaths were on the central Mediterranean route, involving people crossing largely from Libya.
Turkey’s coast guard has raised the number of migrants who drowned in the first of two boat disasters off Turkey’s Aegean coast to 14, bringing the overall death toll in both incidents to 21. A coast guard statement said that seven other migrants were either rescued or found alive onshore in the resort of Ayvalik.
Earlier, the private Dogan news agency said seven other bodies, including women and children, were discovered on the coast of Dikili, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Ayvalik. Namik Kemal Nazli, the local administrator for Ayvalik, told state-run Anadolu Agency that rescuers were still searching for more migrants and that the death toll could rise further.
A Turkish media report says the bodies of seven more migrants have washed up on a shore in Turkey — in a second migrant tragedy at sea in one day, bringing the death toll to at least 16. The Dogan news agency says the seven bodies, including women and children, washed up on the coast of Dikili on Tuesday, hours after nine bodies were discovered further north, on a beach in the resort of Ayvalik.
Dogan said the migrants in both incidents died after their rubber boats overturned in rough waters. Dikili and Ayvalik — about 50 kilometers (30 miles) away —are crossing points for migrants trying to make their way to Greece.
A Turkish news agency says the bodies of nine drowned migrants, including children, have washed up on a beach on Turkey’s Aegean coast after their boat capsized in rough seas. The Dogan news agency says the bodies were discovered early on Tuesday in the resort town of Ayvalik, from where migrants set off on boats to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.
Turkish coasts guards were dispatched to search for possible survivors. Eight migrants were rescued. Dogan video footage showed a body, still wearing a life jacket, being pulled from the sea onto the sandy beach. There was no immediate information on the migrants’ nationalities.
Some 850,000 migrants and refugees crossed into Greece last year, paying smuggling gangs to ferry them over from Turkey in frail boats.