The Latest: Greek officer who rescued migrants mourned

The Latest on Europe's response to mass migration: (all times local):

4:50 p.m.

Greek authorities say a coast guard officer credited with saving thousands of lives off the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos at the height of Europe's migration crisis has died at age 44.

The coast guard said in a statement that Lt. Kyriakos Papadopoulos suffered a fatal heart attack early Wednesday.

Papadopoulos became a local hero while commanding a patrol boat that, according to the coast guard, rescued more than 5,000 migrants who ran into trouble while attempting the dangerous water crossing from nearby Turkey.

Most of the rescues took part under hectic conditions in 2015, when about a million people made the journey in flimsy craft provided by smuggling gangs, the majority reaching Lesbos. Many drowned on the way.

Merchant Marine Minister Fotis Kouvelis praised Papadopoulos, a Lesbos native, for his humanitarian values.


4:10 p.m.

Greek authorities say the bodies of three women who are believed to have entered Greece illegally from Turkey were found in a northeastern border region.

Police said the bodies were discovered Wednesday close to the River Evros, which runs along the land border between Turkey and Greece.

The area is a major entry point for migrants trying to enter Greece illegally, and has recently seen an upsurge in traffic.

Tens of thousands of migrants are trapped in Greece, including some 19,000 on the country's eastern Aegean Sea islands.

Most are seeking to continue on to more prosperous European countries, but blocked by a series of closed borders in the Balkans.


2:45 p.m.

Turkey's coast guard says a boat carrying migrants has capsized off the country's Aegean coast, killing at least nine people.

A search and rescue mission was underway Wednesday for about 25 migrants who are believed to be missing.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency obtained a statement a statement to police by an Iraqi woman who swam back to shore and sought help from Turkish authorities. She reported that the boat with carrying up to 35 passengers capsized Monday evening.

Anadolu reported the 30-year-old woman said she boarded the boat with her husband and their five children.


12:00 p.m.

Turkey's Interior Ministry says a boat carrying migrants has capsized off Turkey's Aegean coast, killing at least four people. Up to 30 others are believed to be missing.

The ministry says an Iraqi woman who survived the capsizing made it back to shore and sought help from Turkish authorities after the boat went down Wednesday off the town of Karaburun, in Izmir province.

The Coast Guard dispatched vessels, a plane and a helicopter to search for the missing, the ministry said.

Although their numbers have decreased in recent years, migrants still try to cross into Greece from nearby Turkey in the hopes of making their way to other European countries.