At least 15 dead after 2 migrant boats sink in Greek waters

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At least 15 dead after 2 migrant boats sink in Greek waters
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ATHENS, Greece — At least 15 people died when two boats carrying migrants sank in Greek waters on Wednesday night, and rescuers were searching for dozens of people still missing, authorities said Thursday.

The Coast Guard said 15 bodies were found near the eastern island of Lesvos after a dinghy carrying around 40 people sank. Five people were rescued and three had been located on a rocky outcrop near the sinking site. A second rescue effort was launched several hundred kilometers to the west, near the island of Kythera, where a sailboat carrying around 100 migrants struck rocks and sank on Wednesday evening.

Officials said 30 people were rescued after the boat hit rocks off the harbor in the village of Diakofti in the east of the island. Winds in the area were up to 45 mph.

“We could see the boat crashing against the rocks and people climbing over those rocks to try to save themselves. It was an amazing sight,” local resident Martha Stathaki told The Associated Press. “All the locals here have come down to the port to try to help.”

Fire rescuers lowered ropes to help migrants scale cliffs on the seafront. Local officials said a school in the area would be open to provide shelter for those rescued. Navy divers were also due to arrive on Thursday.

Most migrants arriving in Greece travel from neighboring Turkey, but smugglers have changed routes in recent months to avoid the heavily patrolled waters around the Greek islands near the Turkish coast.

Kythira is about 250 miles west of Turkey and on a route often used by smugglers to bypass Greece and head straight for Italy.

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