By Goksel Kayseri and Tezcan Ekizler
The death toll has risen to seven after a refugee boat sank off Turkey’s Aegean coast on Thursday evening, the Turkish Coast Guard confirmed Friday.
Two women and five children died when the boat carrying 18 people capsized at around 9 p.m. local time (1800GMT) near the Cesme district of the Aegean province of Izmir. The boat was headed to the Greek islands.
Three boats and one helicopter were dispatched by the Coast Guard in a rescue operation.
Nine people from the boat, including four Iraqis, three Somalis, and two Syrians, were rescued and taken to Cesme State Hospital for treatment.
According to a Coast Guard statement, the alleged organizer of the illegal voyage, who reportedly managed to escape while the boat was sinking, was caught on Karaada island in the bay of Bodrum, in the Aegean province of Mugla.
The suspect was handed over to the gendarmerie.
Search efforts are continuing for one more missing refugee.