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Thursday, 3 October 2013

At least 130 dead including children and a pregnant woman after migrant boat carrying 500 passengers catches fire and sinks off coast of Italy

Migrants

At least 130 people are now thought to have been killed after a migrant boat capsized off the coast of Italy.
Another 250 people are still missing after the boat packed with African migrants caught fire and sank just south of Lampedusa. 
The disaster occurred when the boat's motor stopped working and the vessel began to take on water, Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said. 
People on board burned a sheet to attract the attention of rescuers, starting a fire on board.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT 
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Horrifying
Horrifying: Dozens of African migrants have died and more than 200 are missing after their ship caught fire and capsized off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, spilling hundreds of passengers into the sea
Origin: The migrants were from Eritrea, Ghana and Somalia, the coast guard said
Origin: The migrants were from Eritrea, Ghana and Somalia, the coast guard said
Difficult: It is one of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks in recent times and the second one this week off Italy
Difficult: It is one of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks in recent times and the second one this week off Italy
Tragic: Bodies of drowned migrants are lined up in the port of Lampedusa this morning
Tragic: Bodies of drowned migrants are lined up in the port of Lampedusa this morning
This afternoon it was revealed that Italian divers have seen at least another 20 bodies around a migrant boat on the sea floor raising the death toll to at least 114 people.
But that figure is now thought to have risen to at least 130 with 103 bodies so far recovered. 
One woman, who was initially thought to be dead was revived by medical personnel after she was brought back to the port.
 
Coastguard Commander Floriana Segreto says 'divers of the coastguard have found the boat on the sea floor at a depth of 40 metres (130 ft). ... The divers have yet to go inside the boat.'
She added that they are waiting for the weather to improve and will then start recovering more bodies.
Rising death toll: Military personnel bring bodies to the back of a waiting ambulance after they were pulled out of the Mediterranean
Rising death toll: Military personnel bring bodies to the back of a waiting ambulance after they were pulled out of the Mediterranean
Rescue operation: Emergency workers continue to add body bags to those already lined up on the harbour
Rescue operation: Emergency workers continue to add body bags to those already lined up on the harbour
Emergency situation: A coastguard vessel heads away from the harbour after unloading body bags containing African migrants who drowned in the tragedy
Emergency situation: A coastguard vessel heads away from the harbour after unloading body bags containing African migrants who drow
Dangerous
Dangerous: Migrants frequently land on Lampedusa, just 113 km (70 miles) from the coast of Tunisia, often picked up at sea in dangerously overcrowded boats by the Italian coastguard
Traumatised: A man is helped off the boat following the rescue
Traumatised: A man is helped off the boat following the rescue
The disaster happened four days after 13 migrants drowned off eastern Sicily, and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said action was needed by the European Union to stem 'a succession of massacres of innocent people'.
Last year, almost 500 people were reported dead or missing on the crossing from Tunisia to Italy, the U.N. refugee office UNHCR says. Syrians fleeing civil war have added to the numbers.
A fishing boat raised the alarm at around 7:20 a.m. (0520 GMT) and began pulling people out of the water before coastguard vessels arrived on the scene. The coastguard said 151 people had been rescued.
Tragedy: The ship apparently capsized, spilling the passengers into the sea near Conigli island
Tragedy: The ship apparently capsized, spilling the passengers into the sea near Conigli island

Between 450 and 500 people, most either Eritreans or Somalis, appeared to have been on board the boat, which had come from Misrata in Libya, Alfano said.
'If they had been able to use a telephone, they could have been saved,' he said.
The search for survivors and victims continued within a four nautical mile radius, in water around 30-45 metres deep. 
Rescuers planned to extend the radius later in the day, in case bodies had been pulled away by the tides, he said.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres praised the rescue effort, but said: 'I am dismayed at the rising global phenomenon of migrants and people fleeing conflict or persecution and perishing at sea.'
Spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration in Rome, Simona Moscarelli, said that the boat capsized after all the migrants moved to one side to escape the fire.
She told the BBC that only six of 100 women on board are thought to have survived.
Safe: A group of youngsters are brought safely to the shore after the tragedy off the Italian coast
Safe: A group of youngsters are brought safely to the shore after the tragedy off the Italian coast
Rescue: A woman receives assistance at the Palermo Civico hospital, Italy, after being rescued
Rescue: A woman receives assistance at the Palermo Civico hospital, Italy, after being rescued
A man is carried off an ambulance to receive treatment
Treatment: A man is carried off an ambulance to receive treatment
Desperate:
Desperate: Mayor Nicolini said the ship had caught fire after those on board set off flares so it would be seen by passing ships
Hunt: Coast guard ships and helicopters from across the region, as well as local fishing boats were on the scene trying to find survivors, said Coast Guard spokesman Marco Di Milla
Hunt: Coast guard ships and helicopters from across the region, as well as local fishing boats were on the scene trying to find survivors, said Coast Guard spokesman Marco Di Milla
Shocked: Some of the immigrants after their rescue early this morning
Shocked: Some of the immigrants after their rescue early this morning
Migrants frequently land on Lampedusa, just 113 km (70 miles) from the coast of Tunisia, often picked up at sea in dangerously overcrowded boats by the Italian coastguard.
Pope Francis, who visited the island in July on his first papal trip outside Rome, said he felt 'great pain' for the 'many victims of the latest tragic shipwreck today off Lampedusa'.
'The word that comes to mind is 'shame',' Francis said in unscripted remarks after a speech in the Vatican. 'Let us unite our strengths so that such tragedies never happen again.'
The stream of migrants is a humanitarian and political problem for the Italian government. 

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