Up to 60 immigrants may have been trapped in a boat that sank in an eastern lake last week, Turkey's interior minister said on Wednesday.
Turkey launched a search and rescue mission involving helicopters and boats after the boat carrying immigrants across Lake Van disappeared on June 27. So far, rescue teams have recovered six bodies.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who traveled to Van to oversee the rescue operation, told reporters on Wednesday that authorities estimated the ship was carrying between 55 and 60 migrants when it sank in stormy weather.
WATERSPOUT ROUTE THROUGH LAKE IN TURKEY AS TORRENCIAL RAINS LASH ISTANBUL, KILLING THE SYRIAN REFUGEE
A total of 11 other people have been detained in connection with the tragedy, he said.
HaberTurk television said the immigrants are believed to be from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
Last year, seven immigrants drowned, while another 64 were rescued when their boat capsized in the lake, which is near the border with Iran but lies within Turkey's borders. Smugglers are believed to transport migrants across the lake to escape police checkpoints on the roads.
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Turkey, which is home to some 3.7 million Syrian refugees, is a main crossing point for migrants trying to reach Europe.