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Engine Failure To Blame For Two Boats Sinking Off The Coast Of Greece, Says Refugee Survivor

23/01/2016 4:28 PM AEDT | Updated January 24, 2016 10:16
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
IZMIR, TURKEY - JANUARY 20: Turkish Coast Guard members intervene in a boat carrying refugees, who were trying to go to Greek Islands, after being caught by the TCSG 'Guven' Ship belonging to the Turkish Coast Guard near the coast of Cesme district of Izmir, Turkey on January 20, 2016. There are a striking number of children among the refugees forced to journey on despite bad weather conditions in hope of reaching Europe. (Photo by Emin Menguarslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Engine failure was to blame for the sinking of two boats off the coast of Greece -- killing 45 people, including 20 children -- according to a refugee who was on one of the vessels.

The Syrian witness told Sky News Network he was a survivor on a vessel that capsized in the Aegean Sea near the island of Kalolimnos.

He claimed 'about 80 passengers' on board, six of them children, had set out from Izmir, Turkey before a "problem in the machine (of) the boat" brought about its demise, while the second vessel sank off Farmakonisi to the north.

The coast guard of Greece claimed it had rescued 74 people from the two boats but many were still missing and feared dead.

Thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East -- many of them Syrian refugees -- continue to arrive from Turkey onboard poorly constructed boats every day.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates 31,000 migrants have reached Greece by sea so far this year, hoping to for new a start in Europe.

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