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35 Migrants Drown Off Turkish Coast

  • VOA News

FILE - Migrants on a dinghy arrive from the Turkish coast at the Greek island of Lesbos, Jan. 29, 2016.

FILE - Migrants on a dinghy arrive from the Turkish coast at the Greek island of Lesbos, Jan. 29, 2016.

At least 35 migrants drowned in the Aegean Sea on Monday trying to reach Greece from Turkey.

Turkey's coast guard rescued seven people as two boats sank in separate incidents off the Turkish coast. Both vessels were en route to the Greek island of Lesbos, according to Turkish media.

The latest fatalities drive the death toll for Mediterranean crossings to nearly 400 since the beginning of 2016. The route from Turkey to Greece is a primary channel for Syrians escaping their country's civil war and Islamic State offensives to seek asylum in Europe. Migrants from other countries in the Middle East and Central Asia are adding to the record number of arrivals.

The International Organization for Migration has tallied roughly 75,063 migrant and refugee arrivals by sea to Greece and Italy since January 1. Along with the massive increase in migrants reaching European shores is a spike in deaths during the crossing, skyrocketing from 12 in January two years ago, to 82 last year, to 244 in the first month of 2016.

IOM counts 374 deaths at sea since January 1.

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