A look at the latest developments in Europe's migrant crisis

By The Associated Press, Aug. 18: Record numbers of migrants from countries like Syria and Eritrea are trying to reach Europe, despite the risks from perilous sea crossings and the inability of countries to provide adequate humanitarian assistance. Here are the latest developments Tuesday:

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TURKEY: Six migrants drowned off Turkey's coast while trying to reach islands in Greece. Five bodies were unloaded in the western tourist town of Bodrum, and a rescue team later found a baby's body. About 20 others were rescued and taken to a harbor in the nearby town of Turgutreis.

In another rescue operation, a Doctors Without Borders medical team heading for the Greek island of Leros happened upon a boat carrying 40 migrants, some of whom were in the sea. It picked them up and took them to the Greek island of Kos.

It is unclear how many migrants may have died between Bodrum and Kos, which is only four kilometers (2.5 miles) from Turkey at its closest point, making it one of the shortest routes across the Aegean Sea.

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HUMANITARIAN AID: The German Red Cross says it will distribute hygiene kits to migrants to try to prevent disease from spreading as they arrive on the Greek island of Lesbos.

The aid organization said that starting in mid-September it will hand out more than 19,000 kits, including a two-month supply of toothpaste, soap, laundry detergent, baby-care products and diapers.

The head of the German Red Cross, Rudolf Seiters, called the situation on Lesbos desolate and said many of the migrants are weakened, have to sleep on the floor and have no access to medical care.

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SMUGGLERS: In Italy, authorities detained eight suspected smugglers in the deaths of 49 migrants trapped inside the hold of an overcrowded fishing vessel over the weekend.

Prosecutor Michelangelo Patane said in Catania that a Moroccan was the captain of the ship, while the other seven — four Libyans, two Moroccans and a Syrian minor — used violence to keep order. Patane said the air below deck wasn't breathable because of the number of people and engine fumes.

Smugglers hit those trying to get out with belts and kicked them in the head, "preventing them from having some chance of survival."

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GREECE: A spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency called on Greek authorities to show greater leadership and appoint someone to coordinate the aid operation on some of its smaller islands.

"It's very difficult for us to start working on the ground if we don't have somebody who is in charge," UNHCR spokesman William Spindler told reporters in Geneva.

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STATISTICS: Greece's coast guard says it rescued 576 migrants in 23 search and rescue operations off the coasts of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Agathonisi and Kos in the 24 hours from Monday to Tuesday morning. Greece has reported more than 135,000 arrivals from Turkey this year.

Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said over the weekend that as of Saturday, 103,000 migrants had been rescued at sea and brought to Italy in operations coordinated by the Italian coast guard. Along with other migrants landing in Spain and Malta, that means more than 243,000 people have crossed so far this year, compared to 219,000 for all of 2014.

The International Organization for Migration estimates that at least 2,300 people have died this year trying to cross to Europe.

 

 

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