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Bodies of 34 migrants found on Turkish coast

(Agencies) Updated: 2016-01-06 09:15

Bodies of 34 migrants found on Turkish coast

Turkish coast guards conduct a search and rescue operation after a boat carrying refugees sank off in Ayvalik district of Balikesir during their journey to Europe on January 5, 2016. [Photo/IC]

ISTANBUL - The bodies of 34 migrants, at least seven of them children, were found at two sites along Turkey's Aegean coast on Tuesday after they apparently tried to cross to the nearby Greek island of Lesbos.

The flow of migrants, mostly fleeing Syria's civil war in search of sanctuary in Europe, has continued despite colder winter weather, though the numbers have dipped somewhat. About one million people are believed to have crossed or attempted to cross the Aegean in 2015, nearly five times more than in 2014.

The people found on Tuesday died after their boat or boats apparently capsized in rough seas. It was not known how many vessels were involved or how many people were on board.

Twenty-four of the bodies were discovered on the shoreline in the district of Ayvalik, the Turkish coast guard command told Reuters. Ten others were found in the nearby district of Dikili, a local gendarmerie official said.

The coast guard and gendarmerie rescued 12 others from the sea and the rocks on the Ayvalik coastline. The coast guard said three boats and a helicopter were searching for more survivors.

"This is a crime against humanity. It is murder to send people out to sea like this," said the governor of Ayvalik, Namik Kemal Nazli, referring to the traffickers who exploit migrants desperate to reach Europe.

In comments quoted on the Haberturk website, the governor said 50-60 migrants from Iraq, Syria and Algeria had put to sea in two boats from Dikili.

Haberturk also reported that the dead people at Ayvalik had included two girls and five boys.

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