Italy sinking: Search resumes for missing migrants

Italy sinking: Search resumes for missing migrants

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Divers off southern Italy have been searching the wreck of a boat which sank on Thursday drowning more than 300 African migrants.The fishing vessel foundered less than 1km (half a mile) from the island of Lampedusa after it caught fire.
At least 111 bodies have now been recovered and some 200 of those on board the 20m (66ft) boat are still unaccounted for.
Dozens of bodies are thought to remain in the sunken vessel.
There had been about 500 passengers on board – most from Eritrea and Somalia, according to the UN. Rescuers saved 155.
The diving operation had to be temporarily suspended due to choppy seas, Italian media reports say.
Officials are quoted as saying some 100 bodies could remain in the wreck, which lies some 40m below the surface.
Half of the bodies so far recovered are said to be women and four are children.
A minute of silence was being observed in all Italian schools on Friday in memory of the victims and flags are at half-mast. A special mass is being held on Friday evening in the church in Lampedusa.
The skipper of the boat, a 35-year-old Tunisian, was arrested, announced Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano when he visited the island on Thursday.
“He had been deported from Italy in April,” Mr Alfano said.
“This is not an Italian tragedy, this is a European tragedy,” he continued. “Lampedusa has to be considered the frontier of Europe, not the frontier of Italy.”
‘Immense tragedy’
The ship appears to have set sail from Misrata in Libya and began taking on water when its motor stopped working as it neared Lampedusa early on Thursday morning.
It is thought that some of those on board set fire to a piece of material to try to attract the attention of passing ships, only to have the fire spread to the rest of the boat.
The boat is thought to have capsized when everyone moved to one side.
It is one of the worst such disasters to occur off the Italian coast in recent years; Prime Minister Enrico Letta tweeted that it was “an immense tragedy”. – BBC News

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