Thursday 19 April 2018

Italy to recover capsized boat with 800 migrants trapped inside one year later

Operation to take place as reports emerge today of hundreds of more deaths in the Mediterranean

Pope Francis greets migrants and refugees at Moria refugee camp Photo: REUTERS/Filippo Monteforte/Pool
Pope Francis greets migrants and refugees at Moria refugee camp Photo: REUTERS/Filippo Monteforte/Pool Newsdesk Newsdesk

Italy is to recover a fishing boat from the sea bed after it capsized a year ago with more than 800 migrants trapped inside.

Italian naval ships set sail on Monday evening from Sicily for the shipwreck site. There, they will determine how best to lift the wreck, which still contains bodies, from a depth of 360m (nearly 1,200 feet). It will then be towed to the Sicilian port of Augusta in an operation expected to take the rest of the month.

The Italian navy has already recovered 169 bodies found near the wreck, after Italy's premier vowed to recover the corpses out of respect for the dead.

A memorial service was held for the victims in Catania, Sicily, at a cemetery where a monument to the victims was erected last year. Officials expressed indignation at reports, still unconfirmed, of yet another shipwreck in the Mediterranean with possibly hundreds of victims trying to reach Italy from northern Africa.

"Exactly one year after the biggest disaster in the history of migration in the Mediterranean in the new millennium, we are experiencing an absurd replay," Catania Mayor Enzo Bianco was quoted by the news agency ANSA as saying. "Europe and the world should not be distracted from yet another terrible tragedy."

Two suspected smugglers, a Syrian and a Tunisian, are on trial in Sicily for the April 18, 2015, wreck, facing multiple counts of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and aiding illegal immigration.

Catania prosecutors said that systems put in place after another set of tragedies - two deadly shipwrecks off the coast of Lampedusa in October 2013 - enabled the speedy identification and prosecution of the suspects.

Press Association

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