Turkish police detain one suspect over smuggling of refugees

Turkish police detain one suspect over smuggling of refugees after refugee boat sank off western Turkey, killing 27 people

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Turkish security forces and local people carry the bodies of refugees after a refugee boat sank in the Aegean sea at Edremit bay in Balikesir, Turkey on February 8, 2016.

Turkish police detained a person suspected of organizing a smuggling operation which left 27 refugees dead on Monday.

At least 27 foreign nationals, including 11 children, died early on Monday after a boat carrying refugees sank in the Aegean Sea off Turkey's western Balikesir province.

The Turkish Coast Guard rescued three survivors, while another was rescued by a fishing boat following the incident near Edremit district, which is a few kilometers from the Greek island of Lesbos.

The suspect arrested on Tuesday was among the survivors, local police said, adding that the hunt was on for three other suspects.

Turkey’s Aegean provinces - Canakkale, Balikesir, Izmir, Mugla and Aydin - are prime spots for refugees leaving for the EU, with many Greek islands lying within sight of the Turkish coast.

Over the past year, hundreds of thousands have made short-but-perilous journeys in a bid to reach northern and western Europe in search for a better life.

Of the more than 1.1 million refugees who arrived in the EU last year, more than 850,000 arrived by sea to Greece, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Over the course of the year, 805 people died in the Aegean. Through the first six weeks of 2016 more than 76,000 people arrived by sea in Europe, according to the IOM. The daily average of nearly 2,000 arrivals is nearly 10 times the daily average of a year ago.

Through Feb 8, IOM has recorded 409 fatalities on Mediterranean routes: 319 of the dead or missing were on the Eastern Mediterranean route connecting Turkey to Greece and 90 on the Central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Italy.

TRTWorld, AA