35 migrants rescued, 4 missing off Turkey’s Aegean coast

(Photo: Famagusta Gazette)

The Turkish coast guard on Monday rescued 35 illegal immigrants off Turkey’s Aegean coast, while four others went missing, the force said in a statement.

The incident happened when an inflatable boat carrying migrants to a Greek island sank near the Ayvalik district in the western province of Balikesir, said the statement posted on the website of the coast guard.

The rescue team was continuing to search the missing migrants in the sea, it added, without identifying their nationalities.

Citing the preliminary statements of the rescued migrants, the force said Greek Coast Guard teams “pushed the boat back to the Turkish territorial waters after damaging it.”

Since the start of this year, a total of 11,633 migrants attempted to reach Greece via Turkey’s seas, slightly down from 12,994 over the same period in 2019, according to the latest figures released by the Turkish coast guard.

The Aegean Sea was once the main route for migrants trying to reach Europe via Turkey. A deal was signed between Turkey and the European Union in March 2016 to curb the flow of illegal immigration.

Hosting over 3.7 million Syrian refugees in its territory, Turkey has been urging European countries to shoulder more responsibility.