Rescuers recover 84 bodies off Lampedusa

Monday 07 October 2013 23.54
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Rescue divers in Lampedusa port  resumed a search
Rescue divers in Lampedusa port resumed a search
Rough seas had blocked efforts to recover the bodies trapped inside the submerged boat
Rough seas had blocked efforts to recover the bodies trapped inside the submerged boat
Coffins of some of the African migrants killed in the shipwreck off the Italian coast
Coffins of some of the African migrants killed in the shipwreck off the Italian coast
People attended an torchlight procession in memory of the victims of the immigrant boat disaster
People attended an torchlight procession in memory of the victims of the immigrant boat disaster

84 bodies have been brought to the surface despite poor weather conditions off Lampedusa island in Italy.

Authorities searched for bodies in and around the sunken boat, which was carrying mainly Eritreans and Somalis.

Rough seas have blocked efforts to recover the bodies trapped inside the submerged boat.

The boat sank on Thursday, killing an estimated 300 Eritrean and Somali men, women and children who were seeking a better life in Europe.

The bodies of 111 migrants have been recovered so far and are laid out inside an airport hangar used as a temporary morgue.

Lampedusa, a tiny fishing and tourist island that is only about 112km from Tunisia and 273km from Libya.

It has borne the brunt of a crisis that over the years has seen tens of thousands of migrants arrive in rickety and unsafe vessels.

Thursday's disaster has renewed pressure from Italy for more help from the EU to combat the decades-old migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.

The survivors of the shipwreck live in terrible conditions and face criminal prosecution.

A delegation of politicians and officials said yesterday as they called for policy changes in Italy and in the European Union.

"We have the duty to tell the Italian government and the EU that their structures and policies are not only inadequate, but they're criminal," said Rosario Crocetta, Sicily's regional governor, after visiting Lampedusa's immigration centre with the mayor and a group of politicians.

Migrants paid thousands of dollars to smugglers

The centre, which is equipped to house 250 people, is now packed with more than 1,000.

Reporters and TV cameras are kept out, but clearly seen through the front gate were families with children camping under a stand of shade trees, with foam mattresses for beds and clothing drying on lines stretched between the trunks.

"It's indecent," said Tommaso Curro, a lower house deputy for the 5-Star Movement.

"The overcrowding is inhuman," said Gea Planeta Schiro, with the Civic Choice party. "More than 100 woman are using one bathroom, and they have no soap to wash their clothes."

The politicians said they spoke to a group of the survivors of Thursday's shipwreck, and were told that each migrant paid thousands of dollars to smugglers first to cross the Sahara desert, and then to buy passage across the Mediterranean.