Four human smuggling suspects were arrested yesterday, bringing the total number of people in custody in connection with the migrant boat tragedy in southwestern Turkey to five.
Twelve migrants from Palestine, Syria, Yemen and Somalia died and 31 others were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard when a boat carrying illegal migrants to a Greek island sank off the coast of Bodrum on Monday. One suspect was arrested on Monday for organizing the journey while four others including one Turkish national and three foreigners were arrested in Bodrum for smuggling migrants.
The suspects may face lengthy prison terms over the deaths apart from smuggling charges. The survivors were rescued after a 7-meter-long fiberglass boat with no life vests sank at sea. They told police that they paid 5,000 euros ($5,600) each to the smugglers for the journey.
Turkey has become a popular hub for illegal migrants seeking to cross into Europe. Greek islands in the close proximity of Turkey's Aegean shores are favorite destinations of migrants heading to Europe. However, journeys aboard unsafe, overcrowded boats often steered by inexperienced migrants regularly turn fatal. According to figures provided by the Turkish Coast Guard Command, 28 people died when boats carrying migrants sank off Turkey's Aegean coast between January and June this year.