The bodies of three migrants believed to have frozen to death were found in three separate Turkish border villages, state media reported on Tuesday.
The first body of an Afghan migrant was discovered close to the border with Greece in Serem village in the northwestern province of Edirne, state news agency Anadolu said.
The two other migrants were found in nearby villages — Akcadam and Adasarhanli — days after they had died but their nationalities were not given. Turkish officials believe the three migrants froze to death, Anadolu said, but their bodies have been sent to Istanbul for further examination.
Authorities caught an Afghan man, named as Jamaluddin Malangi by Anadolu, who told reporters in Edirne that Greek police sent him back to Turkey on a boat via River Evros between Greece and Turkey.
The area is a major crossing point for refugees and migrants trying to enter the European Union. Malangi, who claimed he knew one of the migrants found dead, said that they sought help after crossing into Greece by knocking on doors.
“We wanted help and during this someone must have called the police and the Greek police officers came and caught us. First they took us to the police station then they took us near to the river where there were two boats,” Malangi said, quoted by Anadolu.
“We were sent back after being put on them (the boats)” to Turkey, he added. It was not clear whether the migrants found dead were all part of the same group who entered Greece with Malangi or had separately tried to enter the EU member state.
According to Greek authorities, over 14,000 irregular entries have been recorded across the Turkish border so far this year, compared to some 5,500 in 2017. But the number of migrants coming to Europe has fallen since the 2015 peak when over a million people landed in Greece from Turkey, the majority via boats.
The decline followed a deal agreed between the EU and Turkey in 2016 to stop the flow of migrants with Ankara agreeing to take migrants landing on Greek islands in exchange for incentives, including billions of euros to support refugees in Turkey.