At least 22 migrants have died and 30 more are missing after two boats sank in separate incidents in Greek waters.

Around 80 migrants from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan were rescued after their boat broke up near cliffs in stormy weather near the island of Kythira in southern Greece.

The rescues happened after dozens scrambled ashore near the village port of Diakofti.

One resident described seeing the boat “smashing against the rocks” and people climbing up them to try and “save themselves”.

“It was an unbelievable sight,” Martha Stathaki said. “All the residents here went down to the harbour to try and help.”

Rescuers lowered ropes down to the seafront to help survivors climb up the cliffs to reach safety.

Those rescued said around 11 were still missing.

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A nearby school has also opened to provide shelter for those who have been rescued, local officials said.

With many people still missing, navy divers are expected to continue searching the area on Thursday.

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Further east, a total of 17 bodies have been recovered by rescuers near the island of Lesbos after a dinghy carrying around 40 people got into difficulty on Wednesday night.

Ten people were rescued and around 13 remained missing.

The second rescue effort was launched several hundred miles to the west, off the island of Kythira, where a boat struck rocks and sank.

The bodies of at least four migrants were seen amid floating debris.

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

Greece has toughened its migration policy in recent years and regularly carries out interceptions of boats at sea – a move which has been criticised by some human rights groups.

The country has repeatedly blamed Turkey for not taking sufficient measures to stop migrants from making the dangerous journey.

Kythira is some 250 miles (450km) west of Turkey and part of a route often used by smugglers to bypass Greece and head directly to Italy.