October 22, 2018 / 6:01 AM / 23 days ago

Two children die after migrant boat sinks off western Turkey

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Two children died after a boat carrying migrants sank just 50 meters off Turkey’s western coast near Bodrum early on Monday, the coastguard said.

Seventeen people on the boat were rescued from the sea and seventeen others were found on the shore, the coastguard said.

Reuters television footage from the scene showed attempts being made to resuscitate a girl on the beach and an unconscious child being carried from the water to a nearby ambulance.

The coastguard did not specify the migrants’ nationalities.

Two children later died at hospital, it said, adding that search and rescue activities were continuing.

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

The influx of migrants was drastically curtailed by a 2016 accord between Ankara and the EU, after hundreds died crossing to Greek islands a few miles off the Turkish shore.

Mediterranean arrivals to the bloc, including refugees making the longer and more perilous crossing from North Africa to Italy, totaled 172,301 in 2017, down from 362,753 in 2016 and 1,015,078 in 2015, according to United Nations data.

Reporting by Daren Butler; Editing by Ali Kucukgocmen and Raissa Kasolowsky

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