ISTANBUL (Reuters) -Six people including children drowned when a boat carrying migrants from Lebanon destined for Italy sunk off the coast of southwestern Turkey, the Turkish coast guard said on Tuesday.
In a statement, the coast guard said a total of 73 migrants from four life boats were rescued on Tuesday while search and rescue operations for the five missing continued with two boats and a helicopter.
One woman, three children and two babies died, the statement said.
The Turkish coast guard did not disclose the nationalities of the migrants.
The migrants initially set off from Lebanon on Saturday for Italy but needed to refuel off the coast of Greece's Rhodes island, the coast guard said, according to the rescued migrants.
The Turkish coast guard said the Greek coast guard, which responded to the migrants' call for help, put them in four life boats and left them near Turkish territorial waters.
The Greek coast guard denied the incident in a statement.
"Hellenic Coast Guard categorically denies the announcement of the Turkish coast guard referring to the alleged involvement in an alleged push-back incident," Greece's coast guard said.
According to data on Turkish coast guard's website, more than 30,000 irregular migrants were captured so far this year, more than double the number in the same period last year.
(Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Eleftherios PapadimasWriting by Ezgi ErkoyunEditing by Bernadette Baum and Josie Kao)