Five dead, 13 missing after migrant boat sinks in Aegean

A dinghy overcrowded with Afghan immigrants is seen off the coast of the Greek island of Kos whille crossing a part of the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece early May 27, 2015.
A dinghy overcrowded with Afghan immigrants is seen off the coast of the Greek island of Kos whille crossing a part of the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece early May 27, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

ATHENS (AFP) - Greek and Turkish coastguards have recovered the bodies of five migrants after a boat sinking in the Aegean Sea and another 13 are still missing, officials said Thursday.

Greece was using a helicopter, three patrol boats and a navy vessel to look for other survivors after 19 people were rescued.

"Two bodies were recovered by the Greek coastguard and another three by the Turkish coastguard," a Greek coastguard spokeswoman said.

"The search continues to find another 13 people," she added.

The boat sank on Tuesday off the Greek Aegean island of Agathonissi, near the Turkish coast, and survivors told authorities between 33 and 37 people had been on board.

Greece is one of the main entry points into the European Union for migrants making risky sea voyages, the number of which has greatly increased in recent months.

According to United Nations figures, some 137,000 migrants risked their lives to cross the Mediterranean in the first six months of the year, mostly fleeing conflict.

This was 83 per cent higher than the first half of last year.