LESBOS, Greece -- The island has been transformed since I was last here at the end of July and the beginning of August. Back then, I spent three days looking for a boat as it made landfall, and found two the entire time.

Today, one was arriving the moment I reached the beach, and about 10 more soon followed within the next few hours. You see people walking along the roads day and night. A tent city has sprung up in the port, with thousands of inhabitants. Even with expedited procedures for processing refugees off the island, it's clear that authorities can't cope with the incredible pace of new arrivals.


A father and son embrace after their boat arrives to Lesbos, Greece, from Turkey on Sept. 17. (Griff Witte/The Washington Post)

I was on the northern coast, near the town of Saka Sikamineas, for most of the day. Landings were concentrated in the morning. The people I met were primarily from Syria, though there were also Iraqis and Afghans. Most were young men, but there were also families, with women and very young children, including babies.

Those I spoke with said they had heard that Hungary closed its border, cutting off the route ahead, but were undeterred. Many had been anxious about the sea crossing, knowing it can be perilous. But they were fortunate today: The breezes were light and the Aegean was calm.


Years from now, this 3-month-old baby's parents will tell her about the day she escaped to Europe in a rubber raft. (Griff Witte/The Washington Post)

After a perilous crossing to Lesbos, Greece, on Sept. 17, taking the time to document the moment. (Griff Witte/The Washington Post)

Discarded rafts and life jackets line miles of coast of Lesbos on Sept. 17. (Griff Witte/The Washington Post)

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