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Dec 14, 6:03 AM EST

Turkish coast guard in dramatic rescue of stranded migrants


ISTANBUL (AP) -- Turkey's coast guard launched a dramatic rescue operation Thursday to evacuate migrants stranded on rocks in the Aegean Sea.

The coast guard said in a statement that 51 migrants attempted to illegally cross to Greece on a rubber dinghy from the western province of Izmir. Authorities intervened after receiving an emergency call at 01:12 local time (1012 GMT).

Video showed a helicopter lifting a person off the rocks using a rope. The statement said five children and a woman were rescued in this way while the rest were transferred to coast guard boats with the assistance of fishermen in the area.

The coast guard said the rescue operation could only begin in daylight due to the rocky area and bad sea conditions. Helicopters dropped food and blankets in the night.

There was no information on the migrants' nationalities - among them 15 children - but more than 3.3 million Syrians live in Turkey.

At the height of the migrant crisis in 2015, more than 857,000 migrants reached Greece from Turkey. A 2016 deal between Turkey and the European Union has dramatically reduced the numbers.

Turkey's official Anadolu news agency had reported earlier 68 people were stranded.

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