Turkish authorities and maritime workers scramble to search for survivors
AT LEAST 22 people were drowned yesterday when a boat carrying suspected migrants from Afghanistan and Syria sank in the Black Sea off the Turkish coast.
About a dozen people were believed to be missing while six were rescued.
Turkish coastguard vessels, divers and passing fishing boats were mobilised to scan the waters just north of the Bosphorus Strait for more survivors.
There were about 40 people on board the boat, including about 12 children, the coast guard said, adding that it was unclear what caused the vessel to sink or where it had set sail from.
One theory is that the refugees were trying to get to Romania, a member of the European Union.
Turkey is one of the main departure points for migrants aiming for the EU, but most travel across the Aegean Sea to Greece.
People on board were believed to be from Afghanistan and Syria, said Colonel Sakir Cicek of the Turkish military general staff command in the capital Ankara.
Emrecan Kolcu, one of the fishermen involved in the search and rescue operation, said that he had headed to the area when another fisherman radioed that he had seen a body in the sea.
“We saw dead bodies. It was impossible not to see them anyway. Everywhere was full of dead bodies,” said Mr Kolcu.
He said that the bodies had life jackets on them, although other witnesses cast doubt on this.
The boat had issued a distress call early yesterday morning about three miles north of the Bosphorus Strait in the Black Sea, authorities said.