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|Death Toll Rises To 15 In Immigrant Shipwreck Off Turkey|
ANKARA, 26 Feb 2004 (AFP) - The number of people known to have died when a ship carrying illegal immigrants sank off Turkey's western coast rose to 15 on Wednesday, when coastguards found two more bodies, a local official said.
"Rescuers found the bodies of two women" washed up on the shore of a small island off the western town of Ayvalik, town governor Ayhan Boyaci told the Anatolia news agency.
He said coastguards would continue their search but said there was little chance of survival for the estimated 15 people still missing.
Earlier in the day, the coast guard had found the bodies of nine men -- seven of them washed up on the shore of two different island and the remaining two floating at sea -- while trawling the waters in zodiac boats with back-up from helicopters.
Rescuers have been out searching since early Tuesday for possible survivors from the ship, which was believed to have sunk overnight with an estimated 35 people on board.
They have so far found only seven survivors -- five men and two women from Somalia -- after local fishermen reported hearing voices at sea.
The eight-metre (26-foot) vessel had set out from Ayvalik for the nearby Greek island of Lesbos, Boyaci told AFP.
Turkey lies on a major route for people smuggling from Asia into western Europe and illegal migrants are detained almost daily.
The migrants mostly attempt to reach Greece by land or brave sea journeys, often aboard unseaworthy vessels, to Greece or Italy, which are both European Union countries.