Reuters- Turkish authorities announced discovering 27 bodies on Tuesday, among which were at least three children. The bodies were found at two separate locations on the Aegean coast. Victims have apparently drowned after a migrant boat sunk, as it tried to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.
The influx of mostly Syrian refugees and migrants resorting to sea routes seeking sanctuary in Europe has declined toward the end of last year coinciding with colder weather.
However, the total figure still reached 1 million in 2015, almost five times more than the previous year.
Seventeen of the bodies were found on the shoreline in the district of Ayvalik, while ten others were discovered in the district of Dikili, a gendarmerie official in the local headquarters told Reuters.
Reuters TV footage also exhibited a body in an orange life jacket lying at the grey water’s edge in Ayvalik. The nationalities of the drowned victims were not immediately clear.
“We heard a boat sank and hit the rocks. I surmise these people died when they were trying to swim from the rocks. We came here to help as citizens,” an unnamed eyewitness said.
Increased policing on Turkey’s shores and colder weather conditions have not deterred refugees and migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa from embarking on the perilous journey in small, flimsy boats.
The coast guard and gendarmerie rescued 12 people from the sea on the Ayvalik coastline. A coast guard official said three boats and a helicopter were searching for any survivors.
In a deal struck November last year, Turkey promised to help curb the flow of migrants to Europe in return for cash, visas and renewed talks on joining the European Union.
Turkey is host to 2.2 million Syrians and has spent around $8.5 billion on feeding and housing them since the start of the civil war nearly five years ago, but it has been criticized for lacking a longer term incorporation strategy giving Syrians a future there.