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96 migrants die off Turkish coasts in 2018: report

A lifebelt is seen on the beach of the port of Lesbos island on April 16, 2015. Since Greece bolstered controls along its land border with Turkey, along the Evros River, illegal immigrants have turned to the maritime route between Turkey and the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, notably Lesbos, Samos, Kos and Chios. 2015 started with a major increase in the number of Aegean crossings: 10,445 against 2,863 in the same period of 2014, according to the Greek port police. AFP PHOTO / ANGELOS TZORTZINIS / AFP PHOTO / ANGELOS TZORTZINIS

Ninety-six migrants died of drowning or hypothermia off the Turkish coasts of the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black seas in 2018, according to security sources, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The number was 56 in 2017.

Turkish security forces also apprehended 26,678 irregular migrants on their way to European countries last year.

Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media said the number of migrants apprehended at sea increased 21.6 percent over 2017.

Additionally, 87 people were arrested for alleged human smuggling.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of migrants flee civil conflict or economic hardship in their home countries with hopes of reaching Europe.

While some are able to make the perilous journey over land or sea via human smugglers, many are apprehended by security forces before crossing the border to Europe.

A total of 25,398 migrants were apprehended in the Aegean Sea in 2018.

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