At least 12 people believed to be Syrian refugees have drowned after two boats sank after leaving southwest Turkey for the Greek island of Kos, a senior Turkish naval official has said.
The two boats, carrying 23 people, had set off separately from the Akyarlar area of Turkey’s Bodrum peninsula.
Images posted on Twitter on Wednesday included one showing the body of a toddler washed up on the shores of a beach in Bodrum, lying face down in the sand.
The confirmed dead included five children and one woman.
Seven people were rescued and two reached the shore in lifejackets. The official said hopes were fading of saving the two people still missing.
Tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing the war in their homeland have descended on Turkey’s Aegean coast this summer to board boats to Greece, their gateway to the European Union.
The official said almost 100 people in all had been rescued by Turkish vessels overnight as they tried to reach Kos.
Aid agencies estimate that, over the past month, about 2,000 people a day have been making the short crossing to Greece’s eastern islands on rubber dinghies.
The Red Cross said up to 200 people were arriving in Kos everyday, and posted an image of 50 people arriving on a rubber boat on its Twitter account.
— IFRC (@ifrc) September 2, 2015
A ship bringing about 1,800 refugees from one of the islands arrived at the port of Piraeus near Athens on Tuesday night, the Greek coastguard said.
Thousands of people, mainly Africans, have also been trying to reach Europe via boat from Libya to Italy.
The United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, said four bodies had been pulled from the central Mediterranean on Tuesday and 781 refugees rescued, mostly from Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Senegal.
So far this year, more than 2,500 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean, the UNHCR said.