News / Europe

Divers Search for Dead on Italy Migrant Boat Wreck

Soldiers carry the body of a victim of a shipwreck off Sicily in Lampedusa harbor October 6, 2013.
Soldiers carry the body of a victim of a shipwreck off Sicily in Lampedusa harbor October 6, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Italian divers faced harrowing scenes as they worked against the clock on Monday to recover bodies from the wreck of a boat packed with African migrants which sank off the southern island of Lampedusa last week.
 
As search teams took advantage of a break in the bad weather which interrupted work at the weekend, they pulled 17 more bodies from the wreck submerged in more than 40 meters of water, bringing the total number of bodies recovered to 211.
 
More than 300 people are feared drowned in Thursday's disaster, one of the worst single incidents involving economic migrants and refugees attempting the perilous sea crossing from northern Africa to Europe.
 
“We found a whole row of bodies that were inside and outside of the wreck,” said police diver Riccardo Nobile. “We tried to recover those that we could and we pulled them up in the time that we had remaining, but it was very little time.”
 
Because of its depth, divers are only able to remain on the wreck for a few minutes at a time and the recovery work has been slow. All the bodies from around the ship and on deck have now been recovered, leaving dozens still inside the vessel.
 
“Some we have found with their arms outstretched. We try not to notice this kind of thing too much because otherwise the job is too difficult,” Nobile said.
 
“We can see a woman's hair floating out of a broken porthole but we haven't been able to get to her.”
 
The boat, carrying around 500 mainly Eritrean and Somali migrants, capsized and sank, throwing hundreds into the water. Only 155 survivors were rescued.
 
After rough seas at the weekend held up recovery of scores of bodies trapped in the submerged wreck, the weather early on Monday was fine. But officials said stormy conditions were expected later in the day.
 
“I'm sure that the most difficult part of the operations is starting now,” said Coast Guard diver Rocco Pilon. “Technically it will be much more challenging.”
 
EU action
 
Lampedusa, a tiny island halfway between Sicily and Tunisia, has become one of the main entry points for clandestine migrants from Africa into southern Europe, with tens of thousands arriving in unsafe and overcrowded boats over recent years.
 
Thousands have died attempting the crossing, and the decades-long problem has been exacerbated this year by thousands of refugees fleeing civil war in Syria.
 
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is due to visit on Wednesday to discuss joint action on the refugee crisis following calls from Italian politicians for more help from the European Union.
 
In the short term, the government has proposed setting up “humanitarian corridors” able to identify more quickly the vessels making dangerous sea passage so that they can be rescued.
 
However, a breakdown in security in many areas of Libya, the point of departure for the doomed boat, has made it difficult to set up a working system of controls with local authorities.
 
Boats have continued to arrive in southern Italy, with one carrying around 350 refugees from Syria reported to have landed in Syracuse in southeastern Sicily on Monday.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid