Boat sinks in Turkey's Lake Van carrying up to 60 migrants

Authorities have detained 11 people over the incident

Officials wait on the shores of Lake Van after a boat carrying migrants sank on December 26, 2019. At least 7 migrants died and 64 others were rescued by officials. Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Officials wait on the shores of Lake Van after a boat carrying migrants sank on December 26, 2019. At least 7 migrants died and 64 others were rescued by officials. Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A boat that sank on Lake Van in eastern Turkey is believed to have been carrying up to 60 migrants, according to Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who also confirmed the recovery of six bodies on Wednesday.

Mr Soylu said authorities in Van province had detained 11 people in connection with the incident, which the governor's office said took place late on Saturday. Search and rescue operations are under way, the minister told reporters.

The lake is near the border with Iran, from where migrants regularly cross into Turkey, heading west towards Europe. The lake, which is within Turkey's borders, is located on the path of migrants attempting to reach western Turkey from Iran, Afghanistan and other countries.

Seven people died and 64 were rescued when a boat carrying migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan sank on Lake Van in December.

More than a million people reached Greece from Turkey in 2015-16, although the numbers later dropped sharply under a 2016 agreement between the EU and Turkey for Ankara to take migrants back in return for funds.

This year, tens of thousands of migrants tried to cross into Greece through land and sea borders after Ankara said it would no longer stop them. Turkey, home to 3.6 million Syrians, the world's largest refugee population, had said it would open the frontier because it was alarmed by the prospect of another wave of refugees fleeing war in northwest Syria.

Updated: July 1, 2020 12:34 PM

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