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

A large-scale rescue operation was underway off a southern Greek island where a sailboat carrying up to 100 migrants hit rocks and sank in high winds late Wednesday, authorities said.

The coast guard said its vessels, private boats and a rescue helicopter were involved in the effort off the coast of the island of Kythira, some 225 kilometers (140 miles) south of Athens ‒ along a route used by smugglers heading from Turkey to Italy.

Officials said 30 people had been rescued by early Thursday but gave no other details on the missing. They said the sailboat hit rocks off the village port of of Diakofti on the east of the island. Winds in the area were up to 70 kph (45 mph).

“We could see the boat smashing against the rocks and people climbing up those rocks to try and save themselves. It was an unbelievable sight,” Martha Stathaki, a local resident told The Associated Press. “All the residents here went down to the harbor to try and help.”

The rescue work continues during the night towards Thursday at both accident sites, according to the coast guard it is made difficult by bad weather with strong winds.