Coast guard and navy vessels combed the waters off Samos over the weekend for survivors from the wreck of a small boat in which at least five illegal immigrants drowned while trying to reach the eastern Aegean island from Turkey. Survivors picked up out of the sea on Saturday told officials a total of 17 men and three women – all believed to have been Afghan nationals – had embarked on the small wooden craft which sank close to the northeastern shores of Samos in strong winds of up to 8 on the Beaufort scale. By late yesterday, four men and two women had been rescued from the sea off the village of Kedros, after fighting the waves for several hours, while a fifth man was located on land and arrested for illegally entering Greece. The drowned bodies of two men and one woman were found in the sea on Saturday, and those of another two men yesterday. Every year, hundreds of illegal immigrants brave the crossing from Turkey to Greece in rickety vessels provided, at a high price, by smuggling gangs.