At least nine migrants drown off Turkish coast: report

At least nine migrants drown off Turkish coast: report

The Turkish coastguard today recovered the bodies of nine migrants including two children after their boat sank off western Turkey while trying to reach Europe, local media reported.

The boat set off from a town in Izmir province in an apparent bid to reach Greece, the private Dogan news agency reported.

The Turkish coastguard started the search after being alerted by two survivors who swam to shore, according to the report.

These deaths come after 37 migrants drowned off another part of the Turkish coast on Saturday -- in harrowing scenes reminiscent of the death of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler whose tiny body was found lying face down on a Turkish beach.

Turkey reached an agreement with the European Union in November to stem the flow of migrants bound for Europe in return for 3 billion euros (USD 3.2 billion) in financial assistance, but the agreement has failed to check the tide of arrivals.

Turkey, which is hosting at least 2.5 million refugees from Syria's civil war, has become the main launchpad for migrants fleeing war, persecution and poverty to Europe.

Neither the deal with the EU nor the harsh winter conditions have appeared to deter migrants trying to reach Europe, many of whom pay people smugglers thousands of dollars for the risky crossing.

The government said yesterday it was working on new legal measures to strengthen penalties for human smuggling by making it an "act of terror and organised crime."

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