More than 50 feared dead as vessel carrying migrants sinks in Aegean

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Dozens of people have drowned after a fishing boat carrying migrants to whom smugglers had promised refuge in Europe sank after hitting rocks off the coast of western Turkey.

Officials say survivors, mostly from Iraq and Syria, were able to swim through the Aegean waters to shore, only 50 metres (160ft) away.

The website of Hurriyet newspaper said 58 people died.

The survivors said several people had been trapped below the deck of the submerged vessel, and divers launched an operation to try to find them.

Many on board were women and children. The group had previously made their way to hotels in the city of Izmir, where smugglers agreed to take them to Britain.

Authorities arrested two Turkish suspects in the smuggling operation, Turkey’s TRT television reported.

Illegal immigrants from Asia and Africa have long sought to reach Europe by passing through Turkey, and their desperate efforts have occasionally ended in disaster.

Turkey is now hosting 80,000 Syrians who have fled the civil war in their country, and some countries are concerned that larger numbers of Syrians could try to reach Europe illegally.

Three people have died and two are missing after an overcrowded passenger boat carrying mostly school pupils travelling to a maths contest overturned, officials in the southern Philippines said.

More than a dozen people were rescued in the incident, according to police superintendent Leo Ajero.

He said waves generated by a passing vessel caused the motorboat to overturn along the Pulangi River in Kabacan town.