At least 33 people drown after migrant boat sinks off coast of Turkey

Five of the people who died were children

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File photo. Image: Santi Palacios / AP/Press Association Images

At least 33 migrants, including five children, have drowned in the Aegean Sea after their boat capsized off the Turkish coast.

The vessel, which was en route to the Greek island of Lesbos, sank near the resort of Ayvacik.

According to the Anadolu agency, 75 passengers survived and were rescued - including people from Syria, Afghanistan and Myanmar.

Some of the survivors have been hospitalised with symptoms of hypothermia.

Nine people were trapped inside the capsized boat, and the Dogan news agency reports that police have arrested a Turkish man who is suspected of being the smuggler who organised the fatal journey.

So far this year, 218 people have been killed as they attempted to make the perilous crossing from Turkey to Greece.

The route is one of the main corridors for migrants and refugees hoping to enter the European Union.

More than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The organisation estimates that more than 30,000 migrants have reached Greece by sea so far this year.

CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Brian Killoran, has called on the government to send another boat from our naval service to the region. The last of three Irish crews to serve in the Mediterranean returned home before Christmas.