13 die after ferry collides with migrant dinghy

Desperate migrants whose boat stalled while crossing from Turkey to Greece are forced to swim to shore, on the island of Lesbos yesterday. Picture: AP
Desperate migrants whose boat stalled while crossing from Turkey to Greece are forced to swim to shore, on the island of Lesbos yesterday. Picture: AP
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Thirteen migrants have died after their boat collided with a ferry off the Turkish coast, coastguards confirmed yesterday.

Turkey’s coastguard agency said in a statement that it intervened after being alerted that a commercial vessel hit a migrant boat off the western port city of Canakkale and that bodies were in the water.

Reports said that eight people had been rescued following yesterday’s incident.

Meanwhile, Hungary yesterday reopened its main border crossing with Serbia after sealing it off for five days to prevent migrants entering.

Hungarian Interior Minister Sandor Pinter said the crossing on the M5 highway between Roszke, Hungary, and Horgos, Serbia, was reopened for vehicles, which will be checked.

The crossing was the site of clashes on Wednesday between baton-wielding Hungarian riot police and migrants and the reopening follows negotiations with Mr Pinter’s Serbian counterpart, Nebojsa Stefanovic.

Relations between Hungary and Serbia have been complicated by Hungary’s decision to construct a razor-wire fence along its 110-mile border with Serbia to keep migrants out.

Mr Pinter indicated that some of those tensions were easing, saying: “We determined how to handle this extraordinary situation together and tried to find a joint solution.”

While Hungary had repelled migrants at its southern border with Serbia, those arriving from Croatia on its western border are instead greeted with buses and trains to escort them to Austria.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told news portal index.hu that migrants entering from Croatia are receiving the favourable treatment for now because Hungary does not yet have a fence completed along its frontier with Croatia, whereas the fence with Serbia is complete.

Mr Szijjarto explained that without a fence, expelling migrants back into Croatia would create chaos.

The result is that more than 16,000 migrants have crossed into Hungary from Croatia since Friday.Meanwhile the UK government yesterday announced that Syrian refugees will be brought to Britain more swiftly under a fresh push to tackle the growing crisis.

The UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) will be given extra resources to speed up the resettlement programme, International Development Secretary Justine Greening said. Divisions in the EU over how to deal with the migrant crisis will also be discussed by European leaders at an emergency meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury has promised to offer sanctuary for Syrian refugees at Lambeth Palace.

Justin Welby will welcome people fleeing the war-ravaged country in a four-bedroom cottage at the palace, his official London residence.

His gesture follows a similar move by the Catholic church after Pope Francis said two refugee families would move into Vatican housing, but Lambeth Palace said it was something the archbishop had been considering for “a while”.

Britain has agreed to take 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years.