Warning: this video contains images that some may find distressing.

Turkey's gendarmerie says it has found the bodies of 21 refugees, three of them children, at two separate locations on the Aegean Coast today (5 January 2016) after a boat apparently capsized on its way to the Greek island of Lesbos. Eleven of the bodies were discovered on the shoreline in the district of Ayvalik, while 10 others were found in the district of Dikili, a gendarmerie official in the local headquarters said.

A coastguard official said three boats and a helicopter were searching for survivors. Residents of Ayvalik rushed to the shoreline to help after hearing about the incident. "We came an hour ago. We heard a boat sank and hit the rocks. I surmise these people died when they were trying to swim from the rocks. We came here to help as citizens," one of the residents said.

The Turkish coastguard initially discovered the bodies in the district of Ayvalik at around 5am local time. After a search at sea, they rescued eight other people from among a total of 22 believed to have attempted the crossing.

More than 500,000 refugees and migrants entered Greece through its outlying islands last year, travelling on to central and northern Europe as part of the biggest humanitarian crisis on the continent in two decades.

Lesbos, located around six miles from the coast of Turkey, has been a primary gateway for thousands of migrants crossing the European Union's outermost border, many of them fleeing civil war in Syria.

UPDATE: Since this video was recorded, the number of dead bodies discovered has risen from 21 to 27.