Turkish authorities’ raid on a factory in Izmir uncovered a scheme so evil, it's almost hard to believe it's real. The factory is making fake life jackets meant for desperate refugees crossing into Europe, many of who drown on their journey.
Not only would the life jackets fail to save wearers, they could actually drown faster.
The police seized more than 1,200 hazardous life jackets intended to be used by migrants trying to reach Greece by the Aegean Sea. The vests were stuffed with sponge and suitcase fabric that absorbs water, which can cause the wearer to drown.
The confiscated life jackets have been delivered to the local authorities for examination while an investigation has been launched on the booming cottage industry that has erupted as a result of migrant crisis.
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Izmir is a primary hub for thousands of refugees fleeing the Middle East who then make the perilous journey in ill-maintained boats to Greece. The day before the raid, 34 bodies washed up on the shores of Ayvalik and Dikili wearing cheap life vests. Authorities believe that the refugees, who included three dead children, were making their way to the Greek isles, in an inflatable boat that capsized.
The price of a standard life jacket costs around 70 Turkish Liras (US$23.25) while the seized vests were being sold around 20 Liras (US$6.60). The life jackets might have come cheap but because of their lack of buoyancy, they have claimed the lives of a number of migrants.
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Turkey hosts the most migrants in the world — more than 2.2 million —many of who pay a fortune to smugglers for the dangerous crossing to the Greek islands. In 2015, an estimated 4,000 people have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean waters in search of safe haven. Experts argue that low-quality or fake life jackets are the primary reason for the high death toll at sea.