A boat that sank on Lake Van in eastern Turkey is believed to have been carrying 55-60 migrants, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Wednesday, adding that six bodies had been recovered so far.
Speaking to reporters in Van province, Soylu said authorities had detained 11 people in relation to the incident, which the provincial governor’s office said took place late on Saturday. Search and rescue operations continued, Soylu said.
The lake is near the border with Iran, from where migrants regularly cross into Turkey, heading west toward Europe. The lake, which completely within Turkey’s borders, is located on the path of migrants attempting to reach western Turkey from Iran, Afghanistan and other countries.
Seven people died and 64 were rescued when a boat carrying migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan sank on Lake Van in December.
More than a million people reached Greece from Turkey in 2015-16, although the numbers later dropped sharply under a 2016 agreement between the EU and Turkey for Ankara to take migrants back in return for funds.
Earlier this year, tens of thousands of migrants tried to cross into Greece via land and sea borders after Ankara said it would no longer stop them. Turkey, home to 3.6 million Syrians, the world’s largest refugee population, had said it would open the frontier because it was alarmed by the prospect of another wave of refugees fleeing war in northwest Syria.