Tuesday, 30 June 2015

First bodies retrieved from bottom of Med Sea after migrant boat disaster in April

The Italian navy has brought to shore the first three bodies of more than 700 thought to be lying at the bottom of the Mediterranean after the worst migrant boat disaster since the Second World War.

It had been feared that the migrant victims of the shipwreck in April would lay buried on the seabed after the Sicilian public prosecutor investigating the disaster initially refused to bring up the bodies.

But authorities have now begun the grim task of recovering the victims, many of whom were locked inside the hold when the smuggling boat capsized and sank off the Libyan coast.

The bodies lie at a depth of around 370m below sea level and are being brought to shore with the help of a robot equipped with sonar technology and two ‘arms’ capable of lifting the weight of a human corpse. It takes around two hours for each body to be recovered.

The Navy has also recruited specialist divers, who are on board two boats, Gaeta and Leonardo.

The recovery operation began as another 2,900 migrants were rescued on Monday night, after 21 boats in the space of 24 hours were found drifting in Libyan waters. The coastguard, as well as Italian ships and British, Irish and Spanish navy vessels were all involved in the rescue operation.

The rescues lifted to nearly 68,000 the number of migrants to have landed in Italy this year, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, said last month that the victims of the April disaster would be brought up to show the world what had happened. “We will recover that boat and we will bring it up,” he said.

"I want everyone to see what happened. It is unacceptable to keep saying: what the eye does not see the heart cannot grieve.”

Italy and other Mediterranean countries are struggling to cope with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing the civil war in Syria and repression elsewhere in Africa by sea.

But Mr Renzi failed in a recent attempt to enforce compulsory quotas of refugees on EU member states. Tuesday 30 June 2015



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