ISTANBUL – Turkish media say 58 people drowned when a fishing boat carrying migrants that smugglers had promised refuge in Europe sank after hitting rocks off the coast of western Turkey.
Reports cite officials as saying dozens of survivors, mostly from Iraq and Syria, were able to swim through the Aegean waters to shore, only 160 feet away.
The website of Hurriyet newspaper said Thursday that 58 people died.
Illegal immigrants from Asia and Africa have long sought to reach Europe by passing through Turkey, and their desperate efforts have occasionally ended in disaster. Turkey is now hosting 80,000 Syrians who have fled the civil war in their country, and some countries are concerned that larger numbers of Syrians could try to reach Europe illegally.