Babies among six dead after refugee boat sinks off Turkish coast

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Turkey’s Coast Guard says a total of 73 refugees and migrants were rescued, five of whom are still missing.

Six people, most of them children, have drowned after a boat carrying refugees from Lebanon destined for Italy sank off the coast of southwestern Turkey, according to the Turkish Coast Guard.

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The Coast Guard said in a statement that 73 refugees and migrants aboard four lifeboats were rescued on Tuesday, while search and rescue operations are underway for five missing people with two boats and a helicopter.

A woman, three children and two children were killed, the statement said, without disclosing the nationalities of the refugees.

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According to the rescued refugees and migrants, the Coast Guard said the refugees initially left for Italy on Saturday from Lebanon, but needed to be refueled off the coast of Rhodes Island, Greece.

Turkey’s Coast Guard said its Greek counterpart, which responded to calls for help by boats, placed the refugees in four lifeboats and released them near Turkish territorial waters.

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The Greek Coast Guard denied Turkey’s claim.

Greece’s coast guard said, “The Hellenic Coast Guard categorically denies the declaration of the Turkish Coast Guard, referring to its alleged involvement in the alleged push-back incident.”

So far this year, more than 30,000 refugees and migrants have been detained, according to data from the Turkish Coast Guard’s website, more than double that of the same period last year.

The Turkish government often accuses Greece of illegally pushing refugees and migrants into its territory in the Mediterranean, a claim regularly denied by Athens.

Meanwhile, Greek officials claim Ankara turned a blind eye to refugees trying to get to Europe through its territory and say Turkey’s action is against a 2016 agreement between Ankara and the European Union on the issue.

Credit: www.aljazeera.com /

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