NICOSIA, Cyprus — Nineteen people drowned when a boat loaded with as many as 150 people who were thought to be migrants capsized off the northern coast of Cyprus, a Turkish Cypriot official said Wednesday.
Tolga Atakan, the transport minister in the breakaway north of ethnically divided Cyprus, told The Associated Press that rescue crews were searching for 25 missing passengers in an area where a passing cargo ship reported spotting people in the water.
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The Turkish coast guard said it rescued 103 of the capsized vessel's passengers and took them to Turkey. One seriously injured person was being treated at a hospital in the northern part of Cyprus' capital, Nicosia, Atakan said.
Atakan said the nationalities of the passengers have not been confirmed. When asked if they were thought to be migrants, Atakan said "most probably."
Aysegul Baybars, the interior minister in northern Cyprus, told Turkey's CNN-Turk television that authorities were investigating if bad weather, sabotage or other factors caused the sinking.
She said authorities don't know where the vessel has set sail from or where it was heading.
The capsizing occurred around 16 miles (26 kilometers) north of Cyprus' Karpas Peninsula, but it's not yet clear when.