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Seven people dead as migrants’ boat sinks in eastern Turkey

A boat carrying 71 people sank in Lake Van in the early hours of Thursday, says local governor's office
Lake Van is located near the eastern Turkish borders with Iran, a regular migrant crossing route (AFP)

Seven people died on Thursday when a boat carrying migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh capsized in Lake Van near the Turkish borders with Iran, according to a government statement. 

A statement by the governor of the eastern Bitlis province said that five people were found dead at the scene of the incident and two others lost their lives at the Adilcevaz hospital, while 64 people have been rescued. 

"The gendarmerie and Disaster and Emergency Authority (AFAD) teams as well as the diver teams of the security are conducting search and rescue operations in the area,” the statement said.

“A legal and administrative investigation has been launched into the incident," it added.

The boat was carrying 71 people when it sank, the statement said. It capsized as it approached Adilcevaz district in Bitlis, which is on the northern shores of Lake Van, the governor’s office said in a statement.

The accident happened at around 3 a.m. (00.00 GMT).

It was not immediately clear why the migrants used Lake Van, which is completely within Turkey's borders.

Migrants seeking to reach Europe regularly cross from the eastern Turkish borders with Iran, heading west. 

More than 123,000 migrants trying to reach Europe from northwestern Turkey were held since the beginning of 2019, according to security officials who spoke to the official Turkish Anadolu news agency.