More Than 35 Refugees Reported Dead After Boat Crashes Off Turkish Shore
Nearly 40 people were killed Saturday when a boat smuggling refugees to Greece crashed and capsized in the Aegean Sea, trapping passengers underwater.
The 56-foot boat was carrying over 100 passengers when it hit into an outcrop of jagged rocks off the Turkish coast and broke apart.
Emergency crews, including the Turkish coast guard, were able to rescue 75 people from the waterlogged ship. However, at least 37 passengers — including at least 10 children — lost their lives in the accident. Officials believe additional passengers may have been trapped inside the ship and expect the death toll to rise as they continue to search the wreckage.
Most of the passengers aboard the small boat were Syrian. Though it is unclear where their journey originated, Turkish officials confirm the boat crashed shortly after departing from Ayvacik, a resort town just five miles north of Greek island Lesbos.
According to the International Organization for Migration, accidental drowning deaths among refugees are increasing at an alarming rate. January alone saw more than 250 deaths along the Greek-Turkish corridor, compared to 805 in all of 2015.
A Turkish man, believed to be in charge of the trafficking operation, has since been arrested in connection with the tragedy. At this time, it is unclear exactly what charges he faces.