Turkey rescues 57 refugees stranded on rocky islet
ISTANBUL (Turkey) - Turkish coastguards rescued 57 refugees seeking to reach EU member Greece by sea after they were stranded on a rocky islet in the Aegean Sea, official media said Sunday.
The refugees were trying to reach the Greek island of Lesbos but their boat hit trouble after leaving the resort of Dikili in Izmir province on Turkey's Aegean coast, the Anatolia news agency reported.
They were stranded on a rocky islet off Dikili, with pictures showing the refugees, who included women and several children, looking for help from the tiny islet.
Twelve of the most vulnerable, including three children, were winched to safety by coastguard helicopters while the other 45 were picked up by fishing boats as the larger coastguard vessels could not approach the rocky islet.
They were then taken to Dikili port, it added.
Turkey, which is home to some 2.2 million refugees from Syria's civil war, has become a hub for migrants seeking to move to Europe, many of whom pay people smugglers thousands of dollars for the risky crossing.
The UN refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have said more than one million migrants and refugees reached Europe in 2015, most of them by sea.
The vast majority of people -- over 800,000 -- landed in Greece, according to the figures.
The onset of winter and rougher sea conditions do not appear to have deterred the migrants, with boats still arriving on the Greek islands daily.