Ankara (AFP) - Turkish coastguards have rescued almost 18,300 migrants in the Aegean Sea in the last month amid a drastic rise in the number attempting the maritime crossing to the EU, the government said on Monday.
Between July 17 and August 17 2015, 18,296 "irregular migrants" were rescued by the Turkish coastguard, the government said in a statement in response to an AFP inquiry.
Of these, 5,276 were rescued in the last week from August 10-17 alone, it added.
It said that since the start of the year, 36,511 migrants had been rescued in the Aegean, meaning more than half of all the crossings in 2015 had been undertaken in the last month alone.
The release of the data comes amid concern over the growing numbers of migrants crossing from Turkey to EU member Greece in the placid summer weather, in particular from the Turkish resort peninsula of Bodrum to the Greek island of Kos.
Despite the seemingly calm conditions, the crossing is a dangerous enterprise for refugees who pack into rubber dinghies.
"The majority of cases (of those rescued) are of irregular migrants who taken to sea in rubber boats which then sink in unfavourable seas," the statement said.
"In the summer months, there has been a significant increase in the number of cases of irregular migration," it added.
The government said that thanks to the rescue efforts by the Turkish coastguard, the mortality rate for migrants was down sharply on 2014 and well below the international average for such situations.