expert wrote:A ship carrying African migrants to Europe caught fire and capsized off the Italian island of Lampedusa on Thursday, killing at least 94 people as it spilled hundreds of passengers into the sea, officials said. Over 150 people were rescued but some 200 others were still unaccounted-for.
It was one of the deadliest accidents in recent times during the notoriously perilous Mediterranean Sea crossing from Africa for migrants seeking a new life in the European Union.
"We need only caskets, certainly not ambulances," Pietro Bartolo, chief of health services on the island, told Radio 24. He gave the death toll of 94 but told Sky TG24 he expected that to rise as search operations continued.
"It's an immense tragedy," said Lampedusa Mayor Giusi Nicolini, adding that the dead included at least one child of about 3 and a pregnant woman.
Blue, white and black tarps covered the bodies at the port.
Firefighters unload the body of a drowned migrant from a Coast Guard boat in the port of Lampedusa, …Coast guard ships, local fishing boats and helicopters from across the region were combing the waters trying to find survivors, said coast guard spokesman Marco Di Milla. The boat left from Tripoli with migrants from Eritrea, Ghana and Somalia, Di Milla said.
Antonio Candela, the government's health commissioner for Palermo, said 159 people had been rescued, but the boat is believed to have been carrying as many as 500 people, the LaPresse news agency reported.
Nicolini said the ship had caught fire after those on board set off flares so it would be seen by passing ships. The ship apparently then capsized, spilling the passengers into the sea near Conigli island.
Lampedusa is closer to Africa than the Italian mainland — a mere 70 miles (113 kilometers) off the coast of Tunisia — and is the frequent destination for smugglers' boats.
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano canceled his appointments Thursday and headed to Italy's southernmost island to oversee the rescue operations. Pope Francis, who visited Lampedusa in July, quickly sent condolences.
Bodies of drowned migrants are lined up in the port of Lampedusa Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. Tens of peo …It was the second shipwreck this week off Italy: On Monday, 13 men drowned while trying to reach southern Sicily when their ship ran aground just a few meters (yards) from shore.
Hundreds of migrants reach Italy's shores every day, particularly during the summer when seas are usually calmer. They are processed in centers, screened for asylum and often sent back home. Those who aren't usually melt into the general public and make their way to northern Europe, where immigrant communities are bigger and better organized. In Italy, migrants can only work legally if they have a work permit and contract before they arrive.
According to the U.N. refugee agency, 8,400 migrants landed in Italy and Malta in the first six months of the year, almost double the 4,500 who arrived during the first half of 2012.
It's still a far cry from the tens of thousands who flooded to Italy, especially through Lampedusa, during the Arab Spring exodus of 2011.
The numbers, though, have spiked in recent weeks, particularly with Syrian arrivals.
BP wrote:A boat carrying as many as 500 Eritreans has sunk near the Italian island of Lampedusa , killing scores.
Here are recent reports from Italy's southern shores, a key entry point to the European Union for migrants travelling through north Africa.
Pope Francis makes his first visit as pope outside of Rome to Lampedusa . In the first six months of 2013 as many as 8,000 Eritreans had arrived on Italy's southern shores and 40 had died making the journey.
As Francis's plane lands, 160 from the ravaged African state came into port. Francis says he decided to come to Lampedusa after learning of a recent incident in which migrants had died while attempting the crossing from north Africa. The thought of their suffering had come back to him repeatedly like "a thorn in the heart", he says.
He celebrates mass within sight of the so-called graveyard of wrecks, where fishing boats carrying migrants and asylum seekers end up after they drift ashore.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/o ... a-timeline
At least 94 People have died after a boat carrying 500 passengers, all Eritreans who had boarded in Libya.
Italy boat wreck: dozens of migrants die as boat sinks off Lampedusa
Children among dead as boat thought to have been carrying as many as 500 migrants sinks
Thursday 3 October 2013 08.47 EDT
Lizzy Davies in Rome
At least 94 people have died after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants sank off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa, with rescuers warning that the number could rise significantly as searches continue for around 250 people missing.
Coastguards said the alarm had first been raised early on Thursday morning by fishing boats who reported that a vessel was in trouble in the waters near the Mediterranean island that is a frequent destination for people wanting to reach Europe from the northern African coast.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR said it believed there were around 500 passengers, all Eritreans who had boarded in Libya.
Initial reports said the boat is believed to have caught fire before sinking. More than 100 people had been rescued, Lampedusa's mayor, Giusi Nicolini, told SkyTg24, but many more we'ree unaccounted for. She told the Ansa news agency that children were among the dead.
In a statement, the Italian transport minister, Maurizio Lupi, said 250 people were still missing after what he said was a "huge tragedy" that was "not humanly tolerable".
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/o ... inks-italy
Italy boat sinking: Dozens of migrants die off Lampedusa
3 October 2013 Last updated at 13:11
The boat was believed to have been carrying about 500 people at the time.
"There is no miraculous solution to the migrant exodus issue," said Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino. "If there were we would have found it and put it into action."
The boat had set off from Libya and many of those on board were migrants from Eritrea,according to UNHCR spokesman Laurens Jolles in Rome.
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