At least 18 people have died after a boat carrying refugees sank in the Aegean Sea off Turkey's western province of Aydin.
According to the district governor, the refugee boat was en route to Greece when it sank off the coast of Didim district. The Turkish Coast Guard rescued 15 refugees so far.
A search-and-rescue operation is still underway. The total number of refugees is not yet known.
Turkey’s Aegean provinces - Canakkale, Balikesir, Izmir, Mugla and Aydin - are prime spots for refugees leaving for the EU, with many Greek islands lying within sight of the Turkish coast.
Over the past year, hundreds of thousands have made short-but-perilous journeys in a bid to reach northern and western Europe in search for a better life.
Nearly 135,000 migrants or refugees have crossed into Greece and Italy since the beginning of 2016, according to the IOM. Of the 134,905 migrants who have already crossed the Mediterranean this year, 125,819 have reached the Greek islands as of March 3 while the others landed in Italy. Media reports indicate that arrivals in Spain in 2016 are fewer than 100.
Of the more than 1.1 million refugees who arrived in the EU last year, more than 850,000 arrived by sea to Greece from Turkey, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Over the course of the year, 805 people died in the Aegean.
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