Turkey Investigates 8 Bodies That Washed Up On Its Mediterranean Coast, Including At A Resort

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Authorities in Turkey are investigating eight bodies that washed up in the Mediterranean province of Antalya, including two found Monday on a beach in the vacation resort of Serik.

The Antalya governor’s office said one body is assumed to be a Turkish citizen who was reported missing. Authorities believe the seven other bodies discovered over the past week may be migrants from a boat that went missing off the coast near the Syria-Lebanon border last month on its way to Cyprus.

An estimated 90 people were on board the boat that disappeared on Dec. 11, the governor’s office said, citing information provided by the Lebanese embassy in Turkey.

An evaluation of currents, winds and waves indicates that the victims may have been dragged toward the Antalya coastline, the office said in a statement.

In Lebanon, a lawyer who follows migrants’ cases, Mohammed Sablouh, said the boat left northern Lebanon with about 85 people on board, including 30 children.

Sablouh said contact was lost with another boat that left Lebanon on Thursday with about 50 or 60 people on board.

Saadeddine Shatila, executive director of the Cedar Center for Legal Studies, a Lebanon-based human rights non-profit, said his group had been able to identify 76 of the passengers on the boat that went missing on Dec. 11. All of them were Syrians, in addition to the Lebanese captain.

Some of the Syrians had been living in Lebanon for years as refugees and others had come recently from Syria to Lebanon, intending to reach Europe by sea, Shatila said. The smugglers' going rate for passage from Lebanon to Cyprus is $3,500, he said.

The price tag of passage has increased, as has the demand for the journey, over the past few years after Lebanon has fallen into a prolonged economic crisis. Syria’s economic situation has also worsened, in addition to the ongoing impacts of the country’s nearly 13-year-long civil war.

Shatila said he hopes DNA tests will identify the remains of some of the missing boat’s passengers and bring some closure to their families. He called for international authorities to renew search efforts for the boat and for European countries to open more legal pathways for migration so that people do not resort to the dangerous sea journey.

“People are leaving irregularly by these boats because they don’t have another solution,” he said.

On Monday, hotel staff found the two bodies 500 meters (about 1,600 feet) apart on the beach used by guests, the private Demiroren News Agency reported.

The other bodies were found in resorts near the town of Manavgat and on the coast near Antalya city.


Associated Press writers Bassem Mroue and Abby Sewell in Beirut contributed to this report.


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