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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Frozen bodies found in Turkey
Turkish mountain in winter
Winter in Turkey's mountains can be unforgiving
The bodies of 19 suspected illegal immigrants, including nine children, have been found in snow-covered mountains in eastern Turkey.

Police say they recovered the corpses in Van province, near the border with Iran. It is believed the group froze to death several months ago.

The discovery comes a day after police in the western province of Izmir found the bodies of five Pakistani immigrants on a local beach.

Turkey is a major route for immigrants from Asia seeking to reach Europe. They usually cross into the country via the mountainous border with Iran, and then head west, with many attempting to reach Greece and Italy by boat.

Perilous journey

A police official in Van province told the AFP news agency that the immigrants died during the harsh winter conditions typical between November and January.

The Turkish coastguards intercept a boat with suspected illegal immigrants on board in 2001
Turkey catches thousands of immigrants every year
"It was not possible for them to survive in the blizzards," he said.

The nationalities of the victims are not yet known.

The official said troops are continuing to search the area - still covered in a meter (3.3 feet) of snow - to see if there are more bodies.

In Izmir, the five Pakistani refugees who were found dead on a beach were believed to have been heading to Greece. The cause of their death is not clear.

Every year Turkish security forces intercept thousands of illegal immigrants, who undertake the perilous journey to Western Europe in search of a better life.

On New Year's Day 2001, more than 50 migrants died when the Georgian-registered ship in which they were travelling sank off the coast of Turkey


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