Rescue teams are frantically searching Greek waters after two boats capsized last night.
At least 15 people have died and dozens are still missing.
Experienced divers will be dispatched to the area today as the search continues.
Local resident Martha Stathaki said: “We could see the boat hit the rocks and people were climbing on these rocks to try to save themselves. It was an incredible sight.
“All the residents here went to the port to try to help.”
The Greek Coast Guard said 15 bodies were recovered near the eastern island of Lesvos after a rubber dinghy carrying about 40 people sank.
Five were rescued, three of whom were on a ledge near the site of the sinking.
In dramatic scenes last night, firefighters had lowered ropes to allow stranded people to scale cliffs to safety.
Winds in the area reached 45 miles per hour last night.
A second rescue attempt was also launched several hundred miles west near the island of Kythira, where a boat carrying about 100 people sank late Wednesday.
Officials said 30 were rescued after the ship struck rocks off the village port of Diakofti in the east of the island.
Local officials said a school would be opening in the area to provide shelter for those rescued.
Most reaching Greece come from neighboring Turkey, but smugglers have changed routes in recent months to avoid 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 go straight to Italy.
The deaths came amid a heated row between Greece and Turkey over the safety of migrants at sea.
Athens has accused its neighbor of failing to stop smuggling activities.
Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi tweeted on Thursday: “Urgent call on Turkey to take immediate action to prevent all irregular departures due to the harsh weather conditions. Many people are already dying in the Aegean, people are drowning in unseaworthy ships. The EU must act.”
Turkey denies the allegations and then publicly accused Greece of carrying out ruthless summary deportations, so-called pushbacks.
Addressing the United Nations General Assembly last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Greece of “turning the Aegean Sea into a graveyard” and held up photos of dead migrant children.
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/10/06/greece-dozens-feared-dead-after-boats-of-asylums-seekers-sink-17512888/ Greece: Dozens feared dead after boats carrying asylum seekers sank