Death Toll at 232 for Lampedusa Boat Disaster

Written by | Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

At the port in Lampedusa, Italian divers have recovered dozens more bodies from a boat carrying African migrants that sank on Thursday. They have continued to fill trucks with many more bodies – more than 190 so far. All the bodies around the ship and on deck have been brought to the surface, police say, however dozens more are thought to remain inside the vessel. In what is Italy’s perhaps deadliest migrant shipwreck, it is believed there were about 500 African immigrants aboard the boat that sank.
The boat caught fire and capsized close to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa. There were 155 survivors of the accident, which happened about 1km offshore. Each year, tens of thousands of migrants attempt the perilous crossing from North Africa to Sicily and other Italian islands, and shipwrecks off its shore are common. Lampedusa is – because of its location as the closest Italian island to Africa – a common destination for African refugees seeking to enter European Union countries. Survivors described spending 13 days on the boat before the engine stopped less than a mile from the small Mediterranean island, halfway between Sicily and Tunisia.
The survivors, mainly from Eritrea and Somalia, wait in a cramped migrant detention center that was earlier built to hold 250 people but currently houses more than 1,200. There’s been a mounting criticism that more should have been done to help, that the Italian Coast guard was too slow to respond, that they spent precious time filming footage of the rescue instead of saving more lives. “We left our country because of hardship, so that we could live in peace and help our families,” said one of the survivors. “But we have found this bitter sadness. It was so unexpected, so disturbing,” he added.

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