Five Syrian migrants died early Tuesday when a boat taking them from Turkey to Greece capsized, reports said, with a survivor telling AFP the victims were trapped in the hull.
Turkey's official Anatolia news agency reported that 24 migrants had been rescued after the fibreglass boat overturned after leaving Turkey's Bodrum peninsula for the Greek Aegean island of Kos. The corpses of five migrants from the boat were found, it added.
An AFP photographer in Bodrum saw several bodies being brought back to shore by the Turkish coastguard as the survivors looked on, swathed in blankets to prevent hypothermia, their heads bowed in despair.
One of the survivors, a Syrian from Aleppo province who declined to give his name, told AFP the dead migrants had been trapped in the hull of the boat when it capsized.
Reports said that the cause of the capsize was unclear but migrants who spoke to the AFP photographer said it was due to overloading.
Anatolia said that three people, including a child, were rescued from the hull by Turkish divers.
Survivors were admitted to local hospitals while the dead were taken to the morgue.
There has over the last week been a dramatic spike in the numbers of migrants -- mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa -- seeking to leave Turkey by sea for Greece in the hope of finding new lives in the European Union.
According to Turkish government figures seen by AFP, Turkish coastguards rescued almost 18,300 migrants in the Aegean Sea in the last month and more than 5,275 in the last week alone.
Migrants, many of whom have paid over $1,000 to smugglers for the risky passage, are taking advantage of the calm summer weather which makes this the best time for the crossing.