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Migrant Rescue Ship Ferries Survivors, Bodies to Italy

  • VOA News

Migrants disembark from the Norwegian ship Siem Pilot at Catania harbor, Italy, Aug. 17, 2015.

Migrants disembark from the Norwegian ship Siem Pilot at Catania harbor, Italy, Aug. 17, 2015.

A Norwegian migrant rescue ship docked Monday in Sicily, ferrying another 416 migrants to the shores of Europe, but also carrying the bodies of 49 victims who died on their perilous Mediterranean passage from Africa.

The bodies were carried in a container aboard the ship, which arrived in Catania, after coast guard crews rescued 313 from an overcrowded fishing boat Saturday off the Libyan shoreline.

Another 103 migrants were also aboard the Norwegian ship that had been rescued by a German vessel after they set off from Libya in a rubber dinghy.

The 49 casualties suffocated after being overcome by fuel fumes in the water-logged hold of the smuggling boat in which they were riding.

Officials took the bodies to a city morgue for eventual burial in the city.

City officials canceled fireworks that had been planned for the city's patron saint day celebration "out of respect for the 49."

Death toll

More than 2,300 migrants and refugees have died so far this year in their attempts to reach Europe by boat to escape war-torn and impoverished parts of Africa and the Mideast. There were 3,279 fatalities for all of 2014.

The International Organization for Migration said that nearly 250,000 migrants and asylum seekers have arrived in Europe this year via the Mediterranean, compared to 219,000 last year.

Europe has struggled to cope with influx of migrants.

They often first land in Italy and Greece, and then sometimes head to Europe's northern countries, where some communities have welcomed them and others have protested their arrival.

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