At least 13 migrants – six of them children – drowned off Turkey on Sunday after the inflatable dinghy carrying them to Greece was hit in the dark by a Turkish-flagged ship, Turkish media reported. The children’s bodies were recovered by the Turkish coastguard with reports from Greece indicating that another two children may still be missing.
They were on a flimsy vessel taking at least 46 migrants from Turkey’s northwestern coast to the Greek holiday island of Lesbos when the accident happened, the private Dogan news agency reported.
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“It was dark, we saw the ship bearing down on us. We tried to signal with flashlights and cellphones but they did not see us,” a survivor called Haseen told Greece’s state news agency, ANA.
Thrown into the water, the passengers were left fighting to keep their heads above water as a succession of big waves from the ship’s wake crashed over them. “We lost the children. We could not see them in the dark,” Haseen said.
A mother and baby, who had spent at least two hours in the water, were among the survivors, according to ANA. The Greek coastguard said it had rescued 22 people from a boat that sank off Lesbos, apparently referring to the same incident, claiming there were 48 people on board.
Greece’s marine ministry said a search was underway for those missing. The Greek coastguard later recovered the bodies of a woman and a young girl. It was not clear whether they had drowned in the same accident.
On Saturday, a five-year-old Syrian girl drowned and several other refugees were reported missing after their boat also sank trying to reach Lesbos.