Twelve people, including three children and one woman, died when an overloaded boat full of migrants sunk off the coast of the Bodrum district in the south-western province of Mugla in Turkey.
A local media outlet, Madia, reported that the twelve drowned and a further 31 people were rescued. The number of those dead was confirmed by an earlier official statement. The migrants were trying to reach Greece when the deadly incident happened.
A 7-meter-long fiberglass boat was reportedly carrying around 40 migrants from various nationalities, mostly of Arabian descent who were heading to the Greek island of Kos, before their vessel capsized at about 07:00 local time (04:00 GMT).
The coastal guard continues its search and rescue operations on the stretch of water with two boats, a diving team, and a helicopter to find any additional survivors or casualties.
Last week, at least seven people, including two children and four women, were killed after a dinghy carrying migrants overturned near Lesbos Island.
Migrants crossing the Aegean to reach Europe
Turkey is one of the transit countries for migrants fleeing war, political crackdowns and poverty while trying to reach Europe through two main routes, one is the Greece-Turkey land border, while the other is the Aegean.
Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international non-governmental organization which conducts research and advocacy on human rights, has recently voiced some “push back” incidents carried out by Greek authorities in an effort to illegally send refugees and migrants back to Turkey at the Greece-Turkey land border.
This has been of concern to several humanitarian groups and why thousands of refugees are forced to cross the Aegean, risking their lives.
This year until June, 555 migrants died attempting to cross the Mediterranean, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration. The death toll was 924 last year.
In the Aegean route, more than 10,000 migrants were intercepted by the coastal guard crews since January, while it was 25,398 in 2018, according to a report by pro-government Daily Sabah.
Trying to reduce the number of migrants crossing the Aegean route, the European Union (EU) and Turkey concluded a deal on March 18, 2016, which consequently saw a decrease in the number of refugees arriving on Greek islands via the Aegean Sea.
Under the deal, anyone who arrives on the Greek islands must be sent back to Turkey if they do not apply for asylum or if their claims are rejected.
There has been a 96 percent decrease in the number of refugees who crossed the Aegean Sea, with 856,000 crossings in 2015 and 32,000 in 2018, according to the UN High Commission for Refugees.