Dozens Drown as Migrant Boat Hits Rocks

At least 5 children among the dead off Turkish coast
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2016 10:17 AM CST
Dozens Drown as Migrant Boat Hits Rocks
Wreckage is seen on the shoreline near the Aegean town of Ayvacik, Turkey.    (AP Photo/Halit Onur Sandal)

Dead children are once again washing up on the coast of Turkey. Five children were among at least 39 people killed when a boat carrying people from Syria, Afghanistan, and Myanmar hit rocks and capsized soon after it left the Turkish coast for a short crossing through rough winter waters to Greece, the BBC reports. Around 75 people were rescued but authorities fear there are more bodies still in the boat. "I am afraid the numbers will rise as divers continue the search," the mayor of the nearby town of Ayvacik tells CNNTurk, per Reuters. "Local people woke up to the sound of screaming migrants and we have been carrying out rescue work since dawn." He says most of the people on board were Syrian refugees.

Video from the scene shows Turkish police officers walking among bodies, including a toddler who is lying on his back, the AP reports. Survivors have been treated for hypothermia, and the Turkish news agency Dogan says the smuggler who organized the crossing has now been arrested. The International Organization for Migration says the number of migrant drowning deaths in the area now stands at more than 250 for January, compared to 805 for all of 2015, reports the New York Times. Deaths on the route are "increasing at an alarming rate," a spokesman for the group tells the Times, which notes that Turkey says it has tried to reduce the number of migrants going to Europe by granting work permits to Syrian refugees. (More refugees stories.)

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