Syrian refugees among those rescued by Turkish coastguards

Two boats capsized in separate incidents off the coasts of Greece and Turkey with refugees and migrants among the rescued

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Greek and Turkish coast guard vessels recovered five bodies after two boats carrying refugees or migrants capsized in separate incidents off the Turkish coast and a Greek island Monday.

Greece’s coast guard recovered the bodies of two men, rescued six people and was searching for at least five more missing off the coast of the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos after the dinghy they were using to enter Greece clandestinely from Turkey overturned early Monday.

The coast guard was alerted after a fishing boat picked up one person off Lesbos’ eastern coast, and a second managed to swim to the island. The two told authorities they had been in a boat carrying about 15 people when it overturned. Their nationalities were not immediately known.

Across the narrow strait between the island and Turkey, Turkey’s coast guard recovered three bodies and rescued 73 refugees from Syria and Afghanistan after a fishing boat that would have taken them to Lesbos capsized about off Turkey’s Aegean coast at Canakkale, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Separately, Greece’s coast guard said it had picked up 877 people in 30 search and rescue operations from Friday morning to Monday morning. The figures don’t include the hundreds who get to the islands themselves, mostly in inflatable dinghies.

Greece has been overwhelmed by an influx of mainly refugees from Syria and Afghanistan crossing from Turkey, with more than 160,000 entering the country so far this year.

The Greek government chartered a ferry to transport migrants and refugees from the islands to the country’s main port of Piraeus near Athens, as tickets on regular ferries are hard to obtain during the peak tourist and holiday season.

The ferry arrived in Piraeus Monday morning with 2,500 mostly Syrian refugees transported from Lesbos. Thousands more remain on the islands.

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