ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Rescue teams searching for a migrant boat, reported to have capsized in a lake in eastern Turkey, have recovered five bodies on Tuesday, officials said.
A search-and-rescue mission, involving helicopters and boats, was launched after a boat carrying migrants across Lake Van was reported missing on June 27, the regional governor’s office said. The bodies of five people, believed to be migrants, were pulled out of the lake on Tuesday, the statement said, adding that the search for other missing migrants is continuing.
HaberTurk news channel said as many as 50 people may have been aboard the boat when it went down in stormy weather. The migrants are believed to be from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, the report said.
Last year, seven migrants drowned while 64 others were rescued when their boat capsized in the lake, which is close to the border with Iran but lies within Turkey’s borders.
The smugglers are believed to be opting to transport migrants across the lake to escape police checkpoints on roads.
Turkey, which hosts about 3.7 million Syrian refugees, is a main crossing point for migrants trying to reach Europe.
Earlier this year, thousands of migrants arrived at Turkey’s border with Greece trying to cross illegally after Turkey made good on a threat to open its borders for those seeking to cross into Europe. The move triggered days of violent clashes between the migrants and Greek border authorities.