At least four people were killed with one still missing and presumed dead after a Greek tanker collided with a smaller Turkish fishing boat in the Mediterranean close to Turkey’s coast on Wednesday.
Turkey’s coast guard said it happened at dawn some 15 nautical miles off the Turkish coastal town of Karatas. Regional media is describing that it was a Greek cargo ship involved in the collision, which may have occurred due to low visibility. Other sources are reporting it as an oil tanker.
A team of Turkish divers was dispatched to the area and at least three coast guard vessels as part of search and recovery efforts.
The larger tanker had been flying the Greek flag and was still on the scene when other nearby fishing vessels arrived to help the upside down Turkish fishing boat.
“The coast guard later recovered four bodies and was still searching for a fifth person, the Adana governor’s office said in a statement,” the Associated Press reports.
The incident will surely enrage the Erdogan government given ongoing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean over maritime rights and territory. Throughout much of the past year Turkey has been on a war footing with Greece and Cyprus over their efforts to block Turkish hydrocarbon exploration off Cyprus and near Greek islands off Turkey’s coast.
4 dead, 1 missing as tanker collides with fishing boat in southern #Turkey
Sources say 4 fishermen have died after a Greek-flagged crude oil #tanker collided with a Turkish fishing boat -reportedly the Polatbey 1- near Mersin this morning. At least 1 crew member is still missing. pic.twitter.com/WEiSW8Ag9v
— MarineTraffic (@MarineTraffic) November 11, 2020
While Ankara has had a very expansionist interpretation of its maritime claims, the EU has largely backed Cyprus and Greece in their position that Turkey is violating their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).
While there’s been prior ‘ramming’ incidents related to Turkish and Greek ships vying for control, this incident doesn’t appear part of that; however, Ankara will still likely interpret it likely as an intentionally hostile act in order to lay further blame and pressure on Athens.