May 3, 2019 / 1:19 PM / 5 months ago

Nine dead as migrant boat sinks off western Turkey: coast guard

ANKARA (Reuters) - Nine people, including five children, were killed on Friday after a boat carrying migrants sank off the northwestern coast of Turkey, the Turkish coast guard said, adding that three others were being sought.

The boat, off the coast of the Ayvalik district in the Balikesir province, was carrying a total of 17 migrants, the coast guard said. Five were rescued.

In a statement, the coast guard said search and rescue operations including four boats and two helicopters were being carried out to find the others including a suspected migrant smuggler.

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.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Jonathan Spicer

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