Migrants on a Turkish beach scuffled over places on one inflatable dinghy and used plastic paddles as bailers to keep another from sinking during a dramatic night that highlighted their desperation to reach the Greek island of Kos — and the safety of Europe.

The scenes of human trafficking, captured early Saturday by Associated Press journalists on a moonless night, came as Turkish authorities reported that 2,791 migrants have been caught in the Aegean Sea in the past 5 days alone, most of them Syrians.

Kos is only 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from Turkey at its closest point, its twinkling lights at night an irresistible beacon to those fleeing war or poverty.