By Ebi Kesiena
At least 17 people died and nearly 30 were still missing after high winds sank two migrant vessels in Greece, the coastguard said on thursday, with some survivors dramatically hoisted to safety by crane.
A dinghy believed to be carrying around 40 people sank east of the island of Lesbos in high winds, coastguard spokesman Nikos Kokkalas told state TV ERT, adding that the people are of apparent African origin.
The bodies of 16 women and a young boy have been recovered from the area so far, the coastguard said.
A few hours earlier, the coastguard was alerted to a sailboat in distress near the island of Kythira, south of the Peloponnese peninsula. The sailboat believed to be carrying around 95 people ran aground and sank near the island port of Diakofti.
Some of the survivors made it to shore, and an operation involving vessels at sea and the fire service and police on land managed to locate 80 asylum seekers from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.
Dramatic footage released by the coastguard showed some of the survivors hoisted up the vertical face of a huge cliff by rope, some barely managing to hold on.