Ten people, mostly children have died and a further 20 have gone missing after a boat carrying migrants capsized off the northern Istanbul coast early this morning, Turkish daily ‘Hurriyet’ reports.
The boat was apparently carrying 30-40 refugees, six of whom have been rescued by Turkish coast guards and rescue teams dispatched to the area while 10 bodies were also found near the site of the incident.
The accident took place near Rumeli Feneri, a small village at the confluence of the Bosphorus and the Black Sea (above photo).
Seven coast guard boats, a helicopter, special diving teams and fishermen are assisting the rescue work, officials have said.
“The wind is making our task very difficult. The boat is a very small one, it’s in fact just a small boat. But they were carrying 40 people in it. We are seeing bodies of children floating in the sea,” said Ali Saruhan, one of the rescuers in the area.
According to reports, the refugees were believed to be heading to Romania.
Dozens of boats have capsized in the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea over the last year, but few have been reported crossing near the Bosphorus.
Since the start of the civil war in Syria, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of refugees undertaking hazardous sea journeys from the western and southern Turkish coast. At the same time, tens of thousands migrants have also attempted to cross the Greek and Bulgarian borders by land.
Update: Latest reports say that 24 bodies have now been found.