Five migrants – four women and one child – drowned when their boat capsized off the Greek island of Samos close to Turkey’s coast, Greek coast guard officials said on Saturday.
Nine other migrants were rescued, the officials said, and coast guard vessels assisted by a helicopter were searching for more survivors. The death toll has exceeded 3,000 so far as Europe and Turkey are in negotiations on tackling the people smugglers operating along the Turkish coasts.
The incident occurred a day after two ferries took more than 120 migrants back to Turkey from the Greek island of Lesvos, in the second round of returns under an EU deal with Ankara to halt mass migration across the Aegean Sea to Europe. The accord, which came into force on Monday, aims to stem an uncontrolled influx into the European Union of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond, after more than 1 million arrived last year.
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) and human rights groups say the accord may violate international law.