ISTANBUL: At least 24 illegal migrants drowned on Monday when a boat taking them towards European Union waters sank in the Black Sea just off Istanbul, Turkish media reported.
Seven people were rescued and nine more were missing from the stricken boat, which had set off earlier from Istanbul and had travelled through the Bosphorus Strait on its way to Romania.
Those on board were Afghans who had paid several thousand euros each in search of a better life in the EU and had set off earlier from Bakirkoy, an Istanbul suburb on the Sea of Marmara side of the Bosporus.
Twelve children and seven women were reported to have been on board, the reports added, quoting a statement from the coast guard.
A coastguard official contacted by AFP confirmed the accident but could not give the exact number of victims. The boat capsized due to overloading and bad weather conditions.
Turkey has become a hub for illegal immigrants who aspire to reach Europe in the search for a better life.
But the journey is frequently perilous, and hundreds of immigrants have drowned en route to Europe in recent years.