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Numerous deaths as boat capsizes off Cyprus

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Footage shows the rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea [Coastguard via Anadolu]

AT least 19 people have died after a boat capsized off the northern coast of Cyprus, according to the Turkish coastguard.

Rescue crews were able to save 103 people but were still searching for around 25 others, the coastguard said in a statement on Wednesday, Aljazeera said.

It shared footage of a plane, a helicopter and four rescue boats being dispatched to the scene of the accident.

The capsizing occurred around 30km north of Cyprus’ Karpas Peninsula. The exact cause and time of the accident was not immediately known.

The nationalities of the people on board have not yet been confirmed.

The survivors were being airlifted to the Turkish city of Mersin, where at least one person was being treated for serious injuries.

ALSO READ: Cave rescue: First pictures emerge of Thai boys in hospital

In 2015, Turkey became one of the main launch points for more than a million migrants taking the dangerous sea route to the European Union, many fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

A 2016 deal between Turkey and the European Union sharply reduced the flow of refugees into the bloc, after thousands died crossing from Turkey to Greek islands a few miles offshore.

From January to May this year at least 26 migrants died trying to cross to Europe from Turkey, according to coastguard statistics.

Mediterranean arrivals to the bloc, including refugees making the longer and more perilous crossing from North Africa to Italy, stood at 172,301 in 2017, down from 362,753 the year before and 1,015,078 in 2015, according to data from the United Nations.

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