A Greek Coast Guard vessel patrols at the maritme border between Greece and Turkey in 2009 near the small Greek Aegean Sea island of Agathonissi. Picture: ARISris Messinis


Athens - The bodies of two women and two small children washed up on a Turkish coastline on Wednesday after their migrant boat capsized earlier this week, Greek coast guard officials said.

The Greek coast guard immediately launched a search and rescue for survivors after a fishing vessel they were attempting to tow to shore capsized off the eastern Aegean island of Farmakoniki on January 20.

Officials said 16 people were rescued and eight others are still missing, including infants and children.

Among the 28 migrants, who had been attempting to enter Greece from neighbouring Turkey, were 26 Afghans and two Syrians.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) called on the Greek government to investigate into why the accident occurred.

Coast guard officials said they were towing the stranded fishing boat by a Greek coast guard vessel to a Greek island after having received a distress call saying it had suffered engine failure.

Survivors reportedly told UNHCR officials that the Greek coast guard were towing the vessel at high speed in the direction of Turkey.

During the operation, two migrants fell into the sea.

As others tried to save them, the boat capsized.

Greece is a major entry point to the European Union for illegal migrants from Asia and Africa, with the country registering more than 1 million immigrant arrivals over the last decade.