KABUL (Pajhwok): Two dozen illegal migrants, believed to be Afghan citizens, drowned on Monday when the boat ferrying them to Europe sunk near Istanbul.
As 24 people died, six were rescued after the boat capsized Monday in Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait, the governor’s office said in a press statement.
A coastguard search-and-rescue vessel, seven carriers, a diving team, two helicopters, a plane and two boats participated in the operation.
Turkish Transportation Minister Lutfi Elvan said nine passengers had Afghan passports. He suggested all the passengers were from Afghanistan.
The boat was reportedly headed to Bulgaria or Romania, with the migrants having paid smugglers more than $8,700 apiece to try to reach Europe in search of a better life, according to the Voice of America.
The boat was carrying 42 illegal migrants, including 12 children and seven women, along with a Turkish captain, said a report on the Hurriyet news website.
“They had life jackets. But there were bodies everywhere. Babies, children… We pulled out 15-20 bodies,” fisherman Kadir Sert told Hurriyet.