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News > World

Nineteen Dead After Migrant Boat Sinks Near Northern Cyprus

  • Refugees inside the Kokkinotrimithia refugee camp, outside Nicosia in Cyprus, October 2016.

    Refugees inside the Kokkinotrimithia refugee camp, outside Nicosia in Cyprus, October 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 July 2018

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

Nineteen people died when a boat carrying about 150 migrants sank off the coast of northern Cyprus, with rescuers searching for 25 additional people, Turkey's coastguard said on Wednesday.

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A total of 103 migrants was rescued by boats and helicopters of the Turkish and northern Cypriot coastguards, helped by commercial boats in the area, from the sunken vessel some 30km off the north Cyprus coast.

One survivor is in critical condition and has been brought to northern Cyprus by helicopter, the coastguard said.

Burhanettin Kocamaz, mayor of the southern Turkish province of Mersin, told broadcaster Haberturk that the rescued migrants and the bodies of the victims were being brought to Mersin. There is no information about the origins of the migrants yet, Kocamaz said, noting that authorities did not yet know where the migrant boat had come from.

Television footage of the survivors' arrival showed several ambulances arriving at Mersin's Tasucu harbor, from where the victims were taken to Silifke district for treatment. The coastguard said a Panama-flagged commercial ship spotted the migrant boat some 25 nautical miles from Turkey's southern province of Antalya and alerted the coastguard on Wednesday morning.

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

A 2016 deal between Turkey and the European Union sharply reduced the flow of refugees into the bloc, after thousands died crossing from Turkey to Greek islands a few miles offshore.

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

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