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Twenty-One Migrants Die in Shipwreck off Coast of Turkey

As migration attempts to cross the Aegean Sea into Europe continue unabated, the bodies of at least 21 migrants drowned in a shipwreck were found at dawn Tuesday on the Aegean coast of Turkey.

Local news agencies have reported that a number of children were among the victims aboard the barge, which was apparently headed from Izmir for the Greek island of Lesbos.

So far the Turkish coast guard has rescued eight people from the wreck, which reportedly happened around 4:00am due to bad weather conditions.

Eleven bodies were found on the coast in the district of Ayvalik in the northwest of Turkey, a few nautical miles from the island of Lesbos, while 10 others were found further down the coast in the district of Dikili.

The Coast Guard is continuing search operations in the sea, while Turkish police are patrolling the coast. The nationalities of the migrants who were killed is still unknown, as well as the exact number of people who were traveling on the boat.

According to data reported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), some 700 migrants died or went missing last year while trying to cross the Aegean Sea.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday Denmark introduced temporary controls on its border with Germany to cope with the influx of migrants, according to Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen.

The controls go into effect immediately and will be in force at least until January 14. Copenhagen has sent a letter of notification to Brussels and the EU Commissioner of Immigration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, has spoken with the Danish minister.

Denmark’s decision came just hours after the Swedish government reintroduced border checks for travelers from Denmark, in an effort to stem the influx of migrants into the country.

The German Government, while not directly commenting on the decision of the Danish and Swedish to introduce border controls, is pushing for “a European solution” concentrating on the effective control of the external EU borders, said the spokesman of the German Foreign Ministry, Steffen Seibert.

Seibert added that the Schengen system “is very important but is in danger due to the influx of refugees.”

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome

 

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