Only a few people survived when a boat carrying migrants capsized in the Aegean Sea on Monday, Turkish Coast Guard officials say. More than two dozen people perished — including about a dozen children.
The boat had been heading for the Greek island of Lesbos, Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News reports, adding that the boat is believed to have embarked on a new route to Lesbos to avoid "intensified security measures to prevent migrant crossings."
The boat capsized less than 2 miles into its journey, the newspaper adds. Local media report that either three or four people who were onboard were rescued.
The boat departed from Turkey's western Balikesir province, in an area that has become a popular launching point for refugees leaving for the European Union, reports the Anadolu Agency, "with many Greek islands lying within sight of the Turkish coast."
It took only four days this month for the number of migrants and refugees arriving in Greece and Italy to surpass the number who arrived for all of February 2015, according to the International Organization for Migration. On Friday, the group reported that 74,676 people had made that passage so far this year — and that 374 deaths had been reported.
About half of those migrants and refugees have been coming from Syria; an additional 44 percent have come from Afghanistan and Iraq (combined), according to the IOM's Missing Migrants project, which tracks the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
Last week, an international group of diplomats meeting in London pledged nearly $11 billion in aid to help victims of the ongoing crisis in Syria.