Twelve bodies were found on Turkey’s western coast and 26 people were rescued on Tuesday after a boat carrying migrants bound for Greece capsized, the Turkish coastguard said in a statement.
Responding to a distress signal sent in the early morning near Izmir, the coastguard found the bodies of at least five children according to Dogan News Agency.
The coastguard said a helicopter and three boats were still searching for others.
All of those who died, which also included one pregnant woman, came from Iraq and had tried to sail from Aliaga in Izmir province to the Greek island of Lesbos, according to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.
On Wednesday, Turkey’s EU Minister Volkan Bozkir said the European Union must fulfil its promises as part of a deal struck at the end of November in which Turkey promised to help stem the flow of migrants to Europe in return for cash, visas and renewed talks on joining the European Union.
But EU officials have said Turkey’s efforts of curbing migration are falling short and that there is a lot of work still to do.
Despite authorities cracking down on illegal crossings and dangerous winter conditions, thousands are still boarding flimsy boats and braving the Mediterranean waves.
According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 24,000 crossed the Mediterranean to Greece and Italy in the first two weeks of January, and its spokesman Joel Millman said 58 deaths had been recorded as of Jan. 12.