19 Jul 2020
The death toll from the migrant boat disaster on Lake Van in eastern Turkey has risen to 54, the governor’s office said on Saturday after three weeks of search operations, a reported Reuters.
The boat, which sank on June 27, carried 55 to 60 migrants, according to Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu. Five people have been arrested in connection with the incident.
Five bodies were recovered from the lake on Saturday, bringing the confirmed death toll to 54, the governor’s office said.
Lake Van lies near Turkey’s border with Iran, from where migrants from Iran, Afghanistan and other countries regularly cross Turkey westward to Europe. Seven people died and 64 were rescued when a boat carrying migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan sank on the lake in December.
Over one million people reached Greece from Turkey in 2015-16. The numbers fell sharply following a 2016 deal between the EU and Turkey for Ankara to take back migrants in exchange for funds.
Earlier this year, tens of thousands of migrants attempted to enter Greece through land and sea borders after Ankara said it would no longer stop them.
Turkey, home to 3.6 million Syrians, the world’s largest refugee population, had announced it would open the border as it was alarmed by the prospect of a new wave of refugees fleeing the war in the north. western Syria.
Read: Turkey rescues 65 asylum seekers off west coast