Only a few people survived when a boat carrying migrants capsized in the Aegean Sea Monday, Turkish Coast Guard officials say, describing a disaster that killed at least 24 people – including 11 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 two miles into its journey, the newspaper adds; local media report that either three or four people who were on board were rescued.
The boat departed from western Balikesir province, in an area that's 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 February for more migrants and refugees to arrive in Greece and Italy than the number who arrived in 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 in 2016 — and that 374 deaths had been reported.
Around half of those migrants and refugees have been coming from Syria; another 44 percent 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.
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