2 Pakistanis among 7 dead as migrants' boat sinks in Turkey's Lake Van: FO

Updated 27 Dec 2019

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A handout image made available by the Demiroren news Agency shows a rescue diver standing on the shores of Lake Van after a boat carrying refugees and migrants sank in eastern Turkey on Thursday. — AFP
A handout image made available by the Demiroren news Agency shows a rescue diver standing on the shores of Lake Van after a boat carrying refugees and migrants sank in eastern Turkey on Thursday. — AFP

Two Pakistanis, among seven migrants, died when a boat capsized in Lake Van of Turkey's Bitlis province, the Foreign Office (FO) said on Friday.

According to a press release by the FO, "a total of 71 individuals of various nationalities were present on the boat when it capsized, including 25 from Pakistan".

The remaining 23 Pakistanis were rescued and are with the local Turkish authorities. "Those in need of medical attention are being treated in local hospitals," according to the statement.

Turkish authorities carried out a search and rescue operation in the aftermath of the accident.

"Our Embassy in Turkey and Consulate General in Istanbul are in contact with the local Turkish authorities to seek further information and provide all possible assistance to the Pakistani nationals involved," said the FO statement.

According to the FO, the Turkish embassy are working to ascertain the identity of the deceased individuals.

"The families of the deceased will be notified upon confirmation of their identities and all possible assistance will be extended to the bereaved families for repatriation of the remains of their loved ones," read the statement.

64 rescued

The incident occurred on Thursday at around 3am (0000 GMT). A boat carrying Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan nationals sank as it approached Adilcevaz district in Bitlis, which is on the northern shores of Lake Van, the governor's office in Bitlis province said.

The lake is near the border with Iran, from where migrants regularly cross into Turkey, heading west towards Europe. It was not clear why the migrants were on the boat in Lake Van, which is completely within Turkey's borders.

Five people were found dead at the scene and two died at hospital, while the 64 people rescued were taken to nearby hospitals and shelters, the governor's office said.