Migrants' boat capsizes off Turkish coast, 22 drown: Coast guard

Migrants are rescued by the Italian Navy in the Mediterranean Sea on Jan 28, 2016.
Migrants are rescued by the Italian Navy in the Mediterranean Sea on Jan 28, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

ISTANBUL (REUTERS, AFP) - Twenty-two migrants drowned when the boat carrying them capsized off Turkey's Aegean coast in the Edremit area of Balikesir province on Monday (Feb 28) as they tried to reach a Greek island, a Turkish coast guard official told Reuters.

Separately, the private Dogan news agency said 11 migrants died and three were rescued when another boat sank further south off the coast of Dikili in the province of Izmir.

Their boat sank in the Aegean while they tried to cross from Turkey to Greece, local media said.

The migrants had set off from the district of Dikili in western port city of Izmir in an apparent bid to reach the Greek island of Lesbos, Dogan news agency said.

The Turkish coastguard rescued three migrants. Turkey, which is hosting at least 2.5 million refugees from Syria's civil war, has become the main launchpad for migrants fleeing war, persecution and poverty to Europe.

The deaths came as German Chancellor Angela Merkel was meeting Turkish officials in Ankara for talks on reducing the influx of migrants to Europe.

The Turkish government struck a deal with the EU in November to halt the outflow of refugees, in return for three billion euros (S$4.6 billion) in financial assistance.

But the agreement has so far failed to check the tide of arrivals. Between 2,000 and 3,000 people are still landing daily on Greece's shores from Turkey.