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At least 24 dead after 'migrant' boat sinks off Istanbul

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Rescuers retrieve a boat that sank off the Black Sea village of Garipce near Istanbul  REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Rescuers retrieve a boat that sank off the Black Sea village of Garipce near Istanbul REUTERS/Osman Orsal

REUTERS

Rescuers retrieve a boat that sank off the Black Sea village of Garipce near Istanbul REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Rescuers retrieve a boat that sank off the Black Sea village of Garipce near Istanbul REUTERS/Osman Orsal

REUTERS

A Turkish Navy's coastguard ship and a plane carry out a search and rescue operation after a boat sank in the Bosphorus strait, off the Black Sea village of Garipce near Istanbul REUTERS/Osman Orsal

A Turkish Navy's coastguard ship and a plane carry out a search and rescue operation after a boat sank in the Bosphorus strait, off the Black Sea village of Garipce near Istanbul REUTERS/Osman Orsal

REUTERS

Rescue workers stand next to bodies retrieved from the sea after a boat sank in the Bosphorus strait, in the Black Sea

Rescue workers stand next to bodies retrieved from the sea after a boat sank in the Bosphorus strait, in the Black Sea

REUTERS

Turkish gendarmes stand next to bodies retrieved from the sea after a boat sank in the Bosphorus strait, in the Black Sea village of Garipce near Istanbul REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Turkish gendarmes stand next to bodies retrieved from the sea after a boat sank in the Bosphorus strait, in the Black Sea village of Garipce near Istanbul REUTERS/Osman Orsal

REUTERS

A ship carries out a search and rescue operation after a boat sank in the Bosphorus strait, near Istanbul November 3, 2014. Fisherman and coastguards pulled bodies from the sea at the mouth of Istanbul's Bosphorus strait on Monday after the boat believed to be carrying dozens of illegal migrants sank, Turkish authorities and a shipping agent said.

A ship carries out a search and rescue operation after a boat sank in the Bosphorus strait, near Istanbul November 3, 2014. Fisherman and coastguards pulled bodies from the sea at the mouth of Istanbul's Bosphorus strait on Monday after the boat believed to be carrying dozens of illegal migrants sank, Turkish authorities and a shipping agent said.

REUTERS

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Rescuers retrieve a boat that sank off the Black Sea village of Garipce near Istanbul REUTERS/Osman Orsal

At least 24 have died after a boat carrying suspected migrants from Afghanistan and Syria sank off the coast of Istanbul, Turkish authorities said today.

A further 12 are believed to be missing while seven were rescued, Turkish authorities said.

Coast guard vessels, divers and passing fishing boats were scanning the water for more survivors.

Twelve children were believed to be among those on board, the coast guard said in a statement.

It was unclear what caused the vessel to sink or where it had set sail from.

Colonel Sakir Cicek, of the Turkish military's general staff command in the capital Ankara, said the people on board were believed to be from Afghanistan and Syria.

Emrecan Kolcu, one of the fishermen involved in the search-and-rescue operation, said he headed to the area when another fisherman radioed that he had seen a body in the sea.

"We saw dead bodies," Mr Kolcu said. "It was not possible not to see them anyway; everywhere was full of dead bodies. They had life vests on them."

The Istanbul governorship office said the boat had issued a distress call early Monday morning about three miles north of the Bosphorus Strait in the Black Sea.

PA Media