Monday, 7 October 2013

Divers recover 83 more bodies on Sunday from shipwrecked migrant boat off Italy

Divers recovered a total of 83 bodies on Sunday from the wreck of an unseaworthy boat carrying migrants that sank off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, the Ansa news agency reported.

The death toll from Thursday's accident now stands at 194. Authorities fear many more bodies lie in the wreckage on the sea bed.

There were 155 survivors - 154 Eritreans and one Tunisian, according to UNHCR, the UN agency for refugees.

The boat, which reportedly had a capacity of about 500, caught fire and sank on Thursday.

Survivors told UN staff that the boat left from Libya about two weeks back, and the engine failed as it approached the Italian coast.

When the migrants noticed fishing boats passing them without helping, they set clothes and blankets on fire to attract attention. A tourist boat alerted the Italian coast guard, which began rescue operations.

Each year thousands of people from Africa and the Middle East, fleeing conflict, persecution and poverty, embark on treacherous sea journeys as they try to reach Europe via Italy and Malta. Many of them end up in Lampedusa, which is located half-way between Sicily and Tunisia.

While there are no official statistics, Fortress Europe, a non-governmental group, has estimated that more than 6,200 people have died off the coast of Sicily since 1994. It included some 4,800 missing people in the count.

William Lacy Swing, chief of the International Organization for Migration, has said that while the Italian coast guard and port authorities have saved thousands of lives in the Mediterranean over the past two decades, at least 20,000 people have died since 1993.

Monday 7 October 2013


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