ROME, ITALY - The dozens of migrants who died in the crowded hold of a smuggling boat will be buried in a local cemetery, officials in Catania, Sicily, said Sunday.
Deputy Mayor Marco Consoli said the bodies of 49 migrants are expected to arrive Monday in Catania, an Italian port.
On Sunday, a Norwegian vessel participating in a European rescue-and-patrol mission in the Mediterranean was bringing the bodies and more than 300 survivors from the boat toward Sicily. The migrants were rescued Saturday by an Italian navy ship.
Navy officials said an initial inspection indicated the victims died from inhaling exhaust fumes. Survivors said places on the boat's deck and life vests go to migrants who can afford to pay smugglers more.
More than 2,300 migrants and refugees have died so far this year in attempts to reach Europe by boat, compared with 3,279 deaths during the whole of last year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Friday.
IOM spokesman Joel Millman said nearly a quarter of a million migrants and asylum seekers had arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean so far this year, compared to 219,000 for all of 2014.
Some material for this report came from Reuters.