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Two dead after migrant boat sinks off Turkey coast

Seventeen others were rescued after the boat ran into trouble 50 metres off the coast of Bodrum district in Mugla province.

Picture: Supplied.

ANKARA - Two people died on Monday after a boat carrying illegal migrants sank off Turkey's southwestern coast, the Turkish coastguard said.

Seventeen others were rescued after the boat ran into trouble 50 metres off the coast of Bodrum district in Mugla province, it said in a statement.

Initially, 20 people were taken to hospital including three who managed to reach the shore without assistance but two later died.

Search and rescue efforts were continuing, the coastguard said. The boat, believed to be carrying nearly 30 people, had been on its way to the Greek island of Kos, NTV reported.

Officials did not give details of the migrants' nationalities. However, Turkey hosts over three million Syrian refugees and up to 300,000 Iraqis.

It is also one of the transit countries used by migrants fleeing conflict and poverty to try and reach Europe.

The number of migrants coming to Europe has declined since the influx hit a peak in 2015 when more than a million people landed in Greece from Turkey, mainly via boats.

Turkey and the European Union agreed on a deal in 2016 to stem the flow of migrants, with Ankara agreeing to take back migrants landing on Greek islands in exchange for incentives including financial aid.

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