January 3, 2020 / 12:57 PM / 18 days ago

Eight migrants die after boat sinks off western Turkey: interior ministry

ANKARA (Reuters) - Eight people, including three women, died after a boat carrying 15 migrants sank off the coast of western Turkey, the interior ministry said on Friday.

The boat sank on Thursday off the coast of Fethiye district in Mugla province, it said, adding that the others were missing and a search was underway.

Coast guard boats, a helicopter and plane were used during the search and rescue operation as well as a diving unit, the ministry said.

In 2015 Turkey became one of the main launch points for over a million migrants taking the sea route to European Union territory, many fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

Thirty four migrants died at sea off the coast of Turkey last year, and Turkey captured more than 60,000 irregular migrants in 2019, more than double the level in 2018, according to coast guard data.

Reporting by Ece Toksabay,; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun,; Editing by Daren Butler and Ed Osmond

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