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Turkey Suspends Search for Migrants

December 21, 2003

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) _ Turkish and Greek rescue teams searched Sunday for about 60 illegal immigrants who were aboard a boat that sank in the Mediterranean Sea.

The vessel, carrying migrants from Jordan, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, left the Turkish Mediterranean resort of Marmaris late Saturday and was heading to the Greek island of Rhodes when it sank, governor Huseyin Aksoy said.

Rescuers found one survivor, an Iranian man in his 20s suffering from severe exposure. He told authorities the boat suddenly filled with water and sank, and the passengers included at least one woman and a 10-year-old girl.

By nightfall, as hopes for finding more survivors began to fade, Turkey suspended the search until Monday.

Turkish authorities found 13 empty life jackets and the ship’s rudder but no sign of other survivors, Aksoy said. Greece’s Merchant Marine Ministry reported that seven bodies were found near Rhodes.

The 45-foot boat sank about 10 miles off Marmaris, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Each year, thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa pass through Turkey on their way to European Union countries. The EU is pushing Turkey, which has long and porous borders, to crack down on illegal immigration.

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