ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Up to 60 migrants may have been trapped in a boat that sank in an eastern lake last week, Turkey’s interior minister said Wednesday.
Turkey launched a search-and-rescue mission involving helicopters and boats after the boat carrying migrants across Lake Van was reported missing on June 27. So far rescue teams have recovered six bodies.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who traveled to Van to oversee the rescue operation, told reporters Wednesday that authorities estimated the boat was carrying between 55 and 60 migrants when it went down in stormy weather.
A total of 11 other people have detained in connection with the tragedy, he said.
HaberTurk television said the migrants are believed to be from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
Last year, seven migrants drowned while 64 others were rescued when their boat capsized in the lake, which is close to the border with Iran but lies within Turkey’s borders. Smugglers are believed to be transporting migrants across the lake to escape police checkpoints on roads.
Turkey, which hosts about 3.7 million Syrian refugees, is a main crossing point for migrants trying to reach Europe.