18 migrants drown as boat sinks in the Aegean

File: AP
File: AP

Ankara - Eighteen people drowned overnight when their boat sank in the Aegean Sea as it was heading for the Greek island of Kalymnos, Turkish media reported early on Saturday.

Another 14 people, among them Syrians, Iraqis and Pakistanis, were pulled to safety by the Turkish coastguard, the Dogan news agency reported.

They were taken to hospital in serious condition, suffering from hypothermia, the agency said.

The migrants had left the southwestern Turkish resort of Bodrum during the night on board an old vessel which capsized around two nautical miles off Turkey's coast, survivors said.

Some 650 000 migrants, often from Iraq and Syria, have tried to cross the Aegean Sea this year in search of better lives in the European Union.

But an estimated 500, including many children, have died during the often perilous crossing.

EU leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday set an end-of-June deadline to agree on a new border and coastguard force to slow the influx of migrants across the 28-nation bloc's porous external frontiers.

Leaders also urged EU ambassadors to arrange for the rapid delivery of a promised €3bn in aid for refugees in Turkey in return for its help in stemming the flow.

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