At least 18 drown as boat sinks off Turkey

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At least 18 people drowned when their overcrowded boat sank in the Aegean Sea on the way to the Greek island of Lesbos.

It is the latest tragedy involving refugees seeking to enter Europe.

The wooden boat capsized in high waves two miles off the Bademli coast in the Aegean, the private Dogan news agency reported.

The Turkish coastguard recovered the bodies, including several children, from the sea and were searching for another two who were missing.

A one-year-old baby was among those rescued.

Divers from the nearby Turkish coastal city of Izmir were rushed to the scene after a tip-off that more refugees could be stuck in the hold, Dogan said.

The UN refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said this week more than one million migrants and refugees reached Europe this year, most of them by sea.

The vast majority of people – over 800,000 – landed in Greece, according to the figures.

Greek police said yesterday that at least 13 people including seven children, drowned when their boat sank in the Aegean.

Turkey, which is currently playing host to at least 2.2 million Syrian refugees, is a major launch pad for migrants who are seeking better lives in the European Union member states.

The EU is grappling for solutions to mass migrant arrival in Europe, most of them Syrian refugees from Turkey.

Ankara reached an agreement with the EU in November to stem the flow of refugees heading to Europe, in return for financial assistance.

Brussels vowed to provide €3bn in cash as well as political concessions to Ankara in return for its cooperation in tackling Europe’s worst migrant crisis since World War II.

After the landmark deal, Turkish coastguard and police have stepped up their presence along the coasts where smugglers operate the refugee business.

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