The bodies of 21 asylum seekers, three of them children, have washed up at two separate locations on Turkey’s Aegean coast, Turkey’s gendarmerie says, after their boat apparently capsized as they tried to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.
A gendarmerie official in the local headquarters told Reuters 11 of the bodies were discovered on the shoreline in the district of Ayvalik, while 10 others were found in the district of Dikili.
A coast guard official said three boats and a helicopter were searching for any survivors.
Images published by Dogan news agency showed the small corpses of children, fully dressed and wearing shoes, lying on the beach with their life-jackets still on.
There were no details on the nationality of the victims.
The images of the small lifeless bodies on the sand echo those of three-year-old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi, the pictures of whose corpse lying face down on a Turkish beach in September 2015 spurred Europe into greater action on the migrant crisis.
Turkey, which is home to some 2.2 million refugees from Syria’s civil war, has become a hub for those seeking to move to Europe, many of whom pay people smugglers thousands of dollars for the risky crossing
The UN refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have said more than one million asylum seekers and refugees reached Europe in 2015, most of them by sea.
The vast majority — more than 800,000 — landed in Greece, according to the figures.
The onset of winter and rougher sea conditions do not appear to have deterred the migrants, with boats still arriving on the Greek islands daily.