SHAFAQNA – A boat carrying 22 Syrian refugees has capsized off Turkey’s Aegean coastal town of Kusadasi, leaving at least 12 people dead and three others unaccounted for.
Turkey’s private Dogan news agency reported that there were five children among those killed after the inflatable dinghy sank on Friday.
According to the report, rescuers saved seven other people. The Turkish coast guard was still searching for the three missing people.
The agency added that Turkish authorities had arrested two Turks suspected of having organized the voyage to Greece after they swam ashore.
The incident comes nearly a year after the European Union signed a deal with Ankara to stop the flow of refugees in exchange for billions of euros in financial aid to Turkey and the lifting of short-term visa requirements for Turks. The controversial agreement sharply decreased the number of crossings to the continent from Turkey but Ankara has recently threatened to scrap the deal as tensions between the two sides continue to escalate.
Turkey’s dispute with the EU erupted earlier this month after Germany and the Netherlands blocked Turkish ministers from holding rallies to secure a ‘Yes’ vote in the next month’s referendum on expanding Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.
Erdogan on March 16 further accused the European Union of not sticking to a promise to grant Turkish nationals the right to travel visa-free in Europe.