ISTANBUL, July 23 — A migrant boat carrying 45 people sank off southwest Turkey, prompting the coast guard to launch a search and rescue mission, the Turkish defence ministry said today. 

The coast guard was searching for the missing boat “after receiving a tip-off” that it sank on Thursday some 260 kilometres off the coast of the holiday resort town of Kas, the ministry said in a statement. 

There was no immediate information on the nationalities of the migrants. 

Illegal immigrants often use Turkey as a gateway to reach prosperous European Union states, mainly via Greece. 

Many rely on smugglers and risk their lives through perilous journeys in overcrowded boats. 

In 2016, Turkey inked a deal with the EU to stem the flow of migrants to Europe. — AFP