Istanbul: Turkish authorities on Thursday discovered the bodies of seven would-be migrants to Greece on western Turkish beaches, the official Anatolia news agency said.
Police opened an enquiry into the drownings, discovered barely a week after the bodies of 36 migrants, including several children, were found after boats spiriting them across the Aegean Sea to EU member Greece sank.
Police said the latest bodies were found early Thursday in Izmir province, which lies opposite a cluster of Greek islands, as migrants continue to flee war and hardship in the hope of finding a new life in Europe.
Turkey, now home to some 2.2 million refugees from Syria’s civil war and some 300,000 Iraqis, has become a hub for migrants seeking to reach Europe.
Many pay people smugglers thousands of dollars to make the risky crossing.
Despite the winter weather, countless migrants are still risking their lives to reach Greek soil.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said last week that 1,004,356 migrants and refugees reached Europe in 2015, some three quarters of them via Greece and almost five times the previous year’s total of 219,000.
Overall, the IOM said 3,771 migrants and refugees died crossing the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe in 2015, the deadliest annual total on record.
Ankara and Brussels in November signed a plan to stem the flow by providing Ankara with three billion euros ($3.2 billion) of EU cash as well as political concessions for Turkish cooperation in tackling Europe’s worst migrant crisis since World War II.
But the numbers heading to Europe has continued despite the rough wintry conditions.
Visiting Ankara on Monday, European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans said the migrant flow remained “far too high.”