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The New Arab Staff

Dozens feared dead as migrant boat capsizes in Turkish lake

Eleven people were detained in relation to the incident on Saturday [AFP]

Date of publication: 1 July, 2020

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Most of the migrants were from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
Six bodies have been recovered after a boat which is believed to have carried up to 60 migrants capsized in eastern Turkey's Lake Van region last week, local authorities told reporters on Wednesday.

A search and rescue operation involving helicopters and boats was launched after the boat carrying migrants across Lake Van was reported missing on 27 June.

Stormy weather overcame the boat and caused it to sink, Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Solyu said.

It is now thought to have carried between 55 and 60 migrants, most of whom were from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.

Eleven people were detained in relation to the incident on Saturday, Soylu said.

A village administrator, who delayed informing authorities, has also been arrested.

According expert analysis, the boat is likely submerged 110-120 metres deep in the water. An underwater imaging system has been reportedly dispatched from Ankara to pinpoint the location of the wreckage.

Smugglers ferry migrants across the lake, located close to the border with Iran, to avoid police checkpoints dotted along land routes.

Last year, a boat which carried 71 migrants capsized. Seven migrants drowned, 64 others were rescued.

Read more: 7 killed after migrant boat capsizes in Turkey

Lake Van is along a path migrants from Afghanistan, Iran and other countries use to reach western Turkey.

From there, migrants try to reach Europe. Turkey is currently host to around 3.7 million Syrian refugees.

In 2015-16, over a million people entered Greece through the Turkish border. The number dropped sharply when the EU struck an agreement with Ankara, requiring that it accept refugees sent back from Europe in exchange for material and normative concessions.

Yet earlier this year, thousands of migrants attempted to cross into Greece illegally after Turkey moved to open its border, triggering days of violent clashes between the migrants and Greek border forces.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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