Lesbos shipwreck
A man holds a child after a boat with refugees and migrants sunk while attempting to reach the Greek island of Lesbos from TurkeyAFP

At least 38 people are believed to be still missing after a large wooden boat carrying asylum-seekers capsized and sank in the eastern Aegean Sea near the island of Lesbos. Three people, including a one-year-old and a four-year-old, have died, according to Greek coastguards.

Fishing boats and coast guard vessels have rescued 242 people in a dramatic operation and brought them to the village Molyvos, on Lesbos' northern coast.

The refugees were offered assistance by volunteers and doctors in makeshift shelters. Many of them were children and women suffering from shock or receiving first aid in a chapel at the port. Eighteen children were taken to the hospital, three in serious condition, local authorities said.

Although it is still unclear how many people were on the boat, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Greece told IBTimes UK that were 300 people on board, mostly Syrian refugees.

Coastguard boats, assisted by vessels from the European Frontex border agency and a helicopter, searched for survivors in the area.

Lesbos shipwreck
Doctors and paramedics try to revive a boy later taken to  hospital in a critical condition shortly after a rescue operation, in which a boat with refugees and migrants sunk while attempting to reach the Greek island of LesbosAFP
Lesbos shipwreck
Volunteer doctors and paramedics try to revive a baby after a boat carrying more than 200 refugees and migrants sunk while crossing part of the Aegean sea from Turkey, on the Greek island of LesbosReuters

At least 11 people — mostly children — died in five separate incidents in the eastern Aegean Sea on Wednesday, as thousands of people continued to head to the Greek islands from Turkey in frail boats and stormy weather. The IOM said that 71 people were rescued on Wednesday 28 October after another shipwreck off Lesbos, but two children lost consciousness and one died on Thursday.

Trace Myers, a volunteer in Lesbos with the charity Refugees Start, wrote on Facebook: "Today is a day of death. Members of this team have worked relentlessly to give CPR, support grieving people and have watched life pass from children's eyes.

"A woman lost her baby and her husband, another woman saw her three or four-year-old child die and her other child rushed to hospital."

Greek authorities have been accused of failing to improve conditions of thousands of migrants stranded on Lesbos. Earlier this week, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) treated hypothermia among the thousands of people waiting for as long as three days in the rain without shelter, food, water or warm clothes to be registered.

"We have witnessed a lot of pregnant women and children queuing for several days in the mud and pouring rain, without any protection from the elements, soaked to the skin and often wearing nothing warmer than a T-shirt," said Yves Wailly, MSF's project coordinator on Lesbos. "Some people can no longer stand up because their feet are so swollen after being wet for days at a time. Without the intervention of our medical teams or volunteers, police don't allow refugees to leave the queue to get medical care. "

The registration site was set up by the EU Commissioner last week as the first 'hotspot' registration centre in Greece.

MSF said food distributions on the island stopped three weeks ago and containers which could accommodate 600 people remain locked, forcing people to sleep outside on the ground.

Lesbos sits less than 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) from the Turkish coast in the north Aegean sea. The Greek island has been a vital entry point for thousands of people in search of a better life in Europe. Since the beginning of 2015, some 502,500 people have arrived in Greece by sea, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The organisation has noted that "many of the refugees and migrants are desperate to move quickly onwards to Western Europe, fearing that borders ahead of them will close".