19 migrants dead, 25 missing after boat capsizes off northern Cyprus

Turkish and Cypriot coast guards rescued 103 migrants, and are still searching for another 25, after the migrant boat sank off the coast of northern Cyprus 

(Photo: File)
(Photo: File)

19 people have died after a boat carrying around 150 migrants sank off the coast of northern Cyprus, Turkey’s coast guard said on Wednesday.

While 103 migrants were rescued by boats and helicopters of the Turkish and Cypriot coast guards, rescuers are still searching for another 25 migrants.

Rescuers were also being helped by commercial boats in the area when the boat sank some 30km off of the north Cyprus' Karpas Peninsula.

One rescued person was in critical condition and was taken to northern Cyprus by helicopter, the coast guard said.

Burhanettin Kocamaz, mayor of the southern Turkish province of Mersin, told broadcaster Haberturk that the rescued migrants and the bodies of those killed in the sunken boat were being brought to Mersin.

Kocamaz said there was no information about the origins of the migrants yet, adding authorities did not yet know where the migrant boat had come from.

The coast guard said a Panama-flagged commercial ship spotted the migrant boat some 25 nautical miles from Turkey's southern province of Antalya and alerted the coast guard on Wednesday morning.

In May, nine Syrian migrants drowned when their boat capsized off Cyprus' northern coast. The United Nations' refugee agency said it was the first shipwreck involving migrants off the island nation.

Constantinos Petrides, the interior minister in the internationally recognized government of Cyprus based in the south, told The Associated Press that new arrivals have grown at an alarming pace.

The 2,500 asylum applications Cyprus received during the first half of the year puts the country alongside Greece as having the most asylum-seekers per capita in the European Union, Petrides said.

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