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19 drown, dozens are missing as the refugee boat sinks outside Cyprus



Nicosia (AFP) – At least 19 migrants drowned and up to 30 were missing after their boat sank in the Mediterranean off the northern part of Cyprus, local security forces said.

The boat carried 1

50 people, reportedly Syrians, as it sank off the coast of the Turkish Cypriot-controlled part of the island, which is only recognized by Ankara.

More than 100 people were rescued in a joint operation by Turkish Cypriot and Turkish Coastguards after the boat sank off the village of Gialousa (Yeni Erenkoy in Turkish) on the Panhandle Karpas Peninsula

At least 19 drowned and between 25 and 30 still missing, said the Turkish Cypriot security forces (GKK) in a statement Turkish Coast Guard said in a statement that the accident took place 30 kilometers off the coast of Northern Cyprus. It was reported that 103 survivors were rescued.

One was taken by helicopter to Cyprus in serious medical condition, added the GKK.

The other 102 were brought by boat to the port of Tasucu in the southern Mersin region Wednesday, said the state Anadolu news agency of Turkey,

The 19 bodies of the dead were also taken to Tasucu for autopsy. One of the survivors was a three-year-old child, while a woman who drowned was pregnant, Hurriyet newspaper said.

The search for the missing persons was underway, with commercial vessels also taking part. [19659010] The Turkish news agency DHA said that on board the ship were Syrians who wanted to go to Europe, but this has not yet been confirmed.

– "Cemetery for Refugees" –

Cyprus, about 160 kilometers away from Syria's shores, has not seen the massive influx of migrants in Turkey, Greece and Italy, although asylum applications have risen sharply.

According to the International Organization for Migration, 47,637 migrants and refugees arrive in Europe by sea at only 47 Cyprus

In the same period, 1,404 people lost their lives at the crossings, especially those who tried to leave Africa Italy or Malta.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the northern third of the island in response to a coup sponsored by the Greek military junta.

"The Mediterranean must stop being a cemetery for refugees," said Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci after the disaster.

However, Turkey is one of the hubs for migrants and refugees fleeing Syria and other trouble spots such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

More than one million people, many of whom fled the war in Syria, arrived in Turkey from Turkey in 2015 into the EU worst migration crisis since World War II

Turkey reached an agreement with the EU in 2016 to curb the influx of migrants, and agreed to take back illegal migrants in Greek islands in exchange for incentives, including financial assistance. 19659020]
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