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Dozens of Syrian and Iraqi Refugees Drown off Turkish Coast

Approximately fifty illegal immigrants drowned after a boat carrying about 100 people sank off the coast of western Turkey.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 9/6/2012, 4:20 PM

Syrian refugees
Syrian refugees
Reuters

Approximately 50 illegal immigrants have drowned after a fishing boat carrying about 100 people sank after hitting rocks off the coast of western Turkey.

The exact number of dead has yet to be determined. Some reports calculate the death toll at 39, while others have gone as high as 58.

The boat's passengers, who were allegedly trying to enter European countries illegally, were reportedly mostly women and children. 

Some 50 survivors, mostly from Iraq and Syria, were able to swim through the Aegean waters to shore, only 50 meters away, officials said. The survivors said several people had been trapped below the deck of the submerged vessel, and divers launched a rescue operation.

Initial questioning revealed the refugees to be on their way to Britain, Hurriyet Daily News reported.  

Turkey is currently hosting 80,000 Syrians who have fled the civil war in their country, with most staying in camps near the border.