June 3, 2018 / 8:08 AM / in 19 days

Six children among nine dead as refugee boat sinks off Turkey: coast guard

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Nine people including six children died on Sunday when a speedboat carrying 15 refugees sank off the coast of Turkey’s southern province of Antalya, the Turkish coast guard said.

Six people were rescued by the coast guard and fishermen and were transferred to the hospital for treatment, the coast guard said in a statement.

From January to May this year at least 26 migrants died trying to cross to Europe from Turkey, according to the coast guard statistics.

More than a million migrants, many fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa, arrived in the European Union in 2015. Turkey was one of the main launch points for the dangerous sea leg of their journey, on which thousands died.

Numbers have declined sharply since Turkey and the EU made deal under which Ankara, in exchange for 3 billion euros in financial aid and a promise to ease visa restrictions for Turks, began to exert more control on migrants trying to cross to Europe via its territory.

Overall Mediterranean arrivals to the European Union, including refugees making the longer and more perilous crossing from north Africa to Italy, stood at 172,301 in 2017, down from 362,753 in 2016 and 1,015,078 in 2015, according to U.N. data.

Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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