At least 15 people have died as two boats carrying migrants sank in Greek waters late Wednesday, and rescuers were looking for dozens still missing, authorities said early Thursday.
Officials said 30 people had been rescued after that boat hit rocks off the village port 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.”
Most migrants reaching Greece travel from neighboring Turkey, but smugglers have changed routes in recent months in an effort to avoid heavily patrolled waters around Greek islands near the Turkish coastline.
Kythira is some 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Turkey and on a route often used by smugglers to bypass Greece and head directly to Italy.