Turkey says 33 migrants drown, toll could rise

Turkey MigrantsANKARA, Turkey (AP) – The Latest on Europe’s migrant crisis (all times local):
11:55 a.m.
A Turkish government official says rescue workers are trying to reach a submerged migrant-packed boat that sank Saturday shortly after it departed for Greece – but he expects the death toll of 33 to rise.
Saim Eskioglu, deputy governor for Turkey’s Canakkale province, says the 17-meter (56-foot) vessel carrying more than 100 people “hit rocks soon after it left the coast and, unfortunately, it sank.” The Canakkale coast lies barely 8 kilometers (5 miles) north of the Greek island of Lesbos.
“We believe there are more dead bodies inside the boat,” he told CNN-Turk television.
Coast guard officials earlier reported 75 people were rescued.
11:15 a.m.
Swedish police say a group of masked men have been questioned after they distributed anti-migrant leaflets in the center of the capital, Stockholm.
Police spokeswoman Towe Hagg says officers detained four men Friday night after leaflets urging Swedish citizens to organize illegal protests against suspected refugees were handed out.
She says one man was charged with assaulting a police officer, while the others were charged with being masked in public – illegal in Sweden – and with causing a public disturbance. All risk fines.
Sweden, one of the top destinations for asylum-seekers in Europe, received a record 160,000 arrivals last year. The country has experienced a sharp drop in newcomers since photo ID checks were introduced this month.
11:05 a.m.
Turkish coast guards say 33 migrants have drowned while trying to cross the Aegean Sea and reach the Greek island of Lesbos, one of the most popular gateways for entry into the European Union.
In a statement the coast guard says nine victims were trapped inside the capsized craft as patrol boats collected 75 survivors and continued to search the waves for others.
A private Turkish news agency, Dogan, says police have arrested a Turkish man suspected of being the smuggler who organized Saturday’s disastrous sea crossing.
10:45 a.m.
Turkey’s state-run news agency says at least 33 people, including five children, have drowned in the Aegean Sea after their Greece-bound boat capsized off the Turkish coast.
Anadolu Agency says coast guards rescued 75 others from the sea Saturday near the resort of Ayvacik en route to the Greek island of Lesbos.
The agency has identified the survivors as natives of Afghanistan, Syria and Myanmar.
The International Organization for Migration says 218 people have died this year while trying to cross by sea from Turkey to Greece.
Turkey is hosting an estimated 2.5 million refugees from Syria.
In November, Turkey agreed to fight smuggling networks and stem the flow of migrants into Europe. In return, the EU has pledged 3 billion euros ($3.25 billion) to help improve the refugees’ conditions.

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