UPDATE – Four dead as refugee boat sinks off Turkish coast

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Three babies among drowned in waters between Turkey, Greek island

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MUGLA, Turkey – Four children have drowned off the west coast of Turkey after a boat carrying refugees sank Wednesday, officials said.

The fatalities included three babies, the Turkish Coast Guard said.

The 15-meter day tripping vessel was packed with refugees seeking to reach the Greek island of Kos when it sank in Bodrum Bay, Provincial Governor Amir Cicek said.

The coast guards saved 60 from the sea near the small Turkish island of Kara Ada, including three women and five children. Boats and a helicopter are still searching the area.

Kos and other Greek islands lie just a few kilometers (miles) from the Turkish coast, making them attractive destinations for refugees seeking to enter the EU.

However, they are often packed into unseaworthy boats manned by unscrupulous traffickers. Worsening weather conditions are making the passage even more dangerous.

Over the past year thousands have made short but perilous journeys across the Aegean in a bid to reach northern and western Europe.

According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 781,000 migrants have arrived in Greece by sea since the start of the year, mostly from Turkey. There were 632 deaths in the Aegean up to Dec. 14.

According to the UN’s refugee agency, more than 950,000 people have reached Europe by sea this year.

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