23 missing as refugee boat capsizes off Greek island, killing three

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A Turkish boat with 32 illegal immigrants traveling to Greece capsized early Saturday off the Greek Island of Kos, Turkish authorities said. At least three immigrants drowned and 23 were missing.

A Turkish boat with 32 illegal immigrants traveling to Greece capsized early Saturday off the Greek Island of Kos, Turkish authorities said. At least three immigrants drowned and 23 were missing.

Turkish coast guards rescued six people including the Turkish captain of the boat, said Huseyin Avni Cindik, chief of Bodrum's coast guards.

Cindik said Turkish and Greek coast guards backed by a helicopter were searching for survivors, but rescue efforts were particularly difficult due to strong wind and rough sea. The eight-meter (24 feet) boat left from Bodrum, a Turkish summer resort that faces Kos.

Coast guards retrieved the bodies of two men and one woman, the Anatolia news agency reported.

The captain told authorities he was bringing 32 illegal immigrants - 18 Iraqis, eight Iranians, five Afghanis and an unidentified woman - to Greece when the boat capsized around 5:30 a.m. (0230 GMT) in very rough sea. Turkish authorities were alerted by a yacht sailing nearby.

The boat's captain was detained and authorities said he would face criminal charges.

Turkish media reported that several people were rescued by Greek teams, but Turkish authorities were unable to confirm the reports.

Tens of thousands of immigrants from the Middle East and Asia cross illegally from Turkey to Greece each year to make their way into Europe.

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