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The New Arab Staff

Wreckage of migrant boat located '107 meters deep' inside Turkish lake

Efforts to recover the boat and the bodies are now underway [Andalou Agency via Getty]

Date of publication: 9 July, 2020

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Authorities believe the vessel carried between 55 and 60 migrants, mostly from Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

The wreckage of a boat believed to be carrying up to 60 migrants has been found after it was reported missing late last month in a lake in east Turkey, authorities said.

Using underwater imaging devices, search-and-rescue teams of the Turkish Navy began an operation to locate the wreckage on June 28.

It was found at depth of 106.5 meters inside Lake Van on Wednesday, the Van Governorship said in a written statement.

Efforts to recover the boat and the bodies are now underway, the statement added.

The boat, which capsized after being hit by stormy weather, was reported missing on 27 June.

Authorities believe it was carrying between 55 and 60 migrants, mostly from Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. A total of 13 bodies have been discovered so far.

Eleven people have been detained over human smuggling charges related to this incident.

Lake Van is situated close to the border with Iran.

Smugglers ferry migrants across the lake to avoid military and police checkpoints dotted along land routes, according to authorities.

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

Migrants arrive at Turkey with the hope of reaching Europe. The country is home to around 3.7 million Syrian refugees.

In 2015-16, over a million people entered Greece through the Turkish border.

That 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.

This year's coronavirus outbreak has reduced the numbers of migrants arriving in Turkey further, Andalou Agency report. 

Despite this, thousands still attempt the journey every month. More than 21,000 migrants have reached Lake Van this year, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Wednesday.

Of them, 16,000 were denied entry but 4,500 managed to enter illegally, he added.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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