June 17, 2019 / 7:55 AM / 5 months ago

Twelve killed as migrant boat sinks off western Turkey: coast guard

ANKARA (Reuters) - Twelve people were killed on Monday after a dinghy carrying migrants sank off Turkey’s western coast, the Turkish coast guard said, adding that 31 others had been rescued.

Search and rescue operations were launched by the coast guard to reach the passengers of the boat, which sunk off the coast of the Bodrum district in the Mugla province.

The coast guard said in a statement that the operations, carried out by two boats, a diving team and a helicopter, had found the bodies of 12 people from the sunken boat at around 32 meters deep in the sea.

The search and rescue operations are continuing.

Turkey became one of the main launch points for migrants taking the sea route to European Union territory in 2015, many fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa. The movement was drastically curtailed by a 2016 accord between Ankara and the EU.

Until Friday, 16 people described as “irregular migrants” had died this year in the seas off Turkey, the Turkish coast guard’s website said.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Ed Osmond

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