Three-month-old baby killed in latest migrant sinking off Turkey

Three-month-old baby killed in latest migrant sinking off Turkey
Five people, including the tiny infant, drowned when a raft taking them to Greece sank off Turkey's western coast.
2 min read
10 March, 2016
Some 850,000 people landed in Greece from Turkey last year in desperately unseaworthy vessels [Getty]

At least five people, including a baby, drowned as they tried to sail from Turkey to Greece.

The raft, which was transporting Afghan and Iranians to the Greek island of Lesbos, foundered just 500 metres (550 yards) from the Turkish coast on Wednesday night.

Turkish coastguards managed to save nine people on board while two are still missing.

The fresh tragedy came as the European Union and Turkey attempt to firm up a proposed deal to end the worst refugee crisis to hit the continent since World War II.

On Monday, Turkey proposed a deal that would see the EU resettle one Syrian refugee from camps in Turkey in exchange for every Syrian that Turkey takes from Greece, in a bid to reduce the incentive for people to board boats for Europe.

In return, Turkey wants billions of euros in aid, visa-free access to Europe's passport-free Schengen zone and a speeding up of Ankara's efforts to join the EU - demands that go too far for some.

EU leaders hope to finalise the deal at a summit on March 17-18.

Video: Turkey and the EU propose
deal to ease the refugee crisis

Turkey has become the main launchpad for people fleeing the five-year civil war in Syria in search of a better life in Europe.

Some 850,000 people landed in Greece from Turkey last year, often in desperately unseaworthy vessels.

Since January 1 this year, more than 130,000 people have already made the trip.

Meanwhile, authorities in northern Greece say some 70 children living at a camp on the Greek-Macedonian border have received hospital treatment over the past three days, for fever and diarrhoea.

Some 14,000 people are camped out near the border town of Idomeni, many in small tents normally used by summer vacationers. Torrential rain has added to the desperate conditions at the site, with tents sinking in mud, and soaked firewood making it impossible to start camp fires.

Read more: A harsh winter threatens the lives of child refugees

Government health experts at the camp say there is no sign yet of any infectious disease outbreak, but have been urging refugees at Idomeni to move to nearby army-built shelters.

At the nation's main port of Piraeus, near Athens, authorities began transporting hundreds of migrants and refugees to shelters in central Greece to try to ease overcrowding there.

The government says nearly 42,000 people are stranded in Greece following border restrictions and closures by Austria and several Balkan countries that started last month.

Agencies contributed to this report