The bodies of at least eight people, including several children, were recovered from a Turkish shore Tuesday after a boat carrying 22 migrants capsized, Turkish news agency DHA reported.
The people, whose nationalities are still undetermined, were trying to reach the Greek island Lesbos on their way to Western Europe. The coast guard is still searching for survivors.
Last year the Aegean became the main gateway for migrants, mostly refugees from Syria and other war zones in the Middle East and Asia who hope to find shelter in wealthy European countries. About 850,000 people crossed the waterway to Europe in 2015. The surge continues despite the massive risks of a ride in inadequate vessels and harsh winter weather.
Turkish authorities say they are sheltering 2.2 million refugees from Syria alone in 25 camps, with even more people choosing to fend for themselves.
The Greek coast guard said two ferries brought 2,477 migrants from Lesbos and Chios to Athens Tuesday morning, after another 1,880 arrived the previous evening.
From Greece, the refugees continue their travel toward western and northern Europe.
Since the second half of November, countries further along the Balkan route - Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria - have stopped all so-called economic migrants and are allowing only Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis to pass.