Three bodies have been found in a rescue operation for migrants aboard a boat that capsized in the Mediterranean sea early Friday, according to Greek officials.
Over 300 people of the “significant number” of passengers thrown into the water have already been rescued off the Greek island of Crete.
“People are in the water, boats crossing the area have thrown lifebuoys and are moving to save the migrants,” a spokeswoman for the Greek coast guard said.
“The number of people in distress could be counted in the hundreds,” she added.
It is not immediately clear where the boat came from or the nationalities of passengers on board. Nigerians and Gambians are among the most common migrants making the journey from Libya to Greece, though an increasing number of Somalians and Eritreans are also fleeing.
Though most Syrian refugees enter Europe by land through Turkey, a boat carrying 65 Syrians, Afghans and Pakistanis was intercepted off the Greek coast last week.
An estimated 880 migrants and refugees died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea during the past week, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
It brings the total of lives lost in the first five months of 2016 to more than 2,500 people who attempted to reach Europe among many thousands. By contrast 1,855 people died in the same period of 2015.