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The Greek Coast Guard said Saturday that 12 bodies have been recovered from the Ionian Sea and 21 people have been rescued from a migrant boat that sank off the island of Paxos.

One of the migrants on board alerted authorities that the vessel was in trouble shortly after 9 a.m. Details were not available immediately about the identity of the victims and the cause of the sinking.

The boat may have been overloaded with 50 people aboard, according to Coast Guard spokesman Nikolaos Lagadianos.

Officers have carried out an extensive search and rescue operation, the Greek Coast Guard release said.

Six patrol boats from Corfu, four additional ships and two helicopters have been involved in the effort.

Three of the 21 rescued so far have been transported by a Navy helicopter to a hospital to receive medical attention.

The rescue and recovery effort is ongoing.

According to the U.N. refugee agency, 74,482 migrants arrived in Greece last year, 59,591 by sea and 14,891 by land, most of them from Afghanistan and Syria.
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