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Ankara -

Twenty people drowned on Thursday after a boat carrying illegal immigrants trying to reach Europe capsized in waters off western Turkey, a local official told NTV television.

“We have so far recovered 20 dead bodies,” said Tahsin Kurtbeyoglu, local administrator in Izmir province in western Turkey. “The boat's captain and his maid, as well as 43 illegal immigrants were rescued alive,” he added.

The boat took off from Ahmetbeyli, a Turkish vicinity on the western coast of Turkey close to Greek islands, and hit the rocks, said the official.

The boat's final destination is not known and most of the immigrants were from Arab countries, he added.

Turkey has become a hub of illegal immigrants who aspire to cross into European countries for better lives. - Sapa-AFP