Greece's coast guard says it has rescued hundreds of refugees and migrants in operations off the coasts of eastern Aegean islands, as a wave of people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa toward Europe continues unabated.

The coast guard said Wednesday it had rescued 578 people in 15 incidents at sea near the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos and Kos from Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning. The figure doesn't include those who arrive at the islands themselves from the nearby Turkish coast, usually in inflatable dinghies.

Greece has borne the brunt of a record number of refugees and migrants heading to Europe, with more than 160,000 entering the country so far this year. The vast majority are Syrians and Afghans.