ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Five people, including three children, died after a boat carrying 15 migrants sank off the coast of western Turkey on Monday, the Turkish coast guard said.
It said five others were missing and a search was underway.
The coast guard said it had plucked three people from the sea with the help of local fishing boats after the vessel with the refugees aboard went down off the coast of the western province of Izmir. Two other people swam to shore, it added.
One Iranian and 14 Afghan nationals were on the boat before it sank, the coast guard said, adding that search operations for the five missing people were continuing.
In 2015 Turkey became one of the main launch points for over a million migrants taking the sea route to European Union territory, many fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.
Turkey drastically curtailed the exodus of migrants in 2016 under a deal with the EU after hundreds died crossing to Greek islands a few miles off the Turkish shore.
Mediterranean arrivals to the bloc, including refugees making the longer and more perilous crossing from North Africa to Italy, totalled 172,301 in 2017, down from 362,753 in 2016 and 1,015,078 in 2015, according to United Nations data.
(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by David Dolan and Mark Heinrich)