Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hundreds dead, missing in Italy migrant boat disaster

One of Italy's biggest migrant disasters of the last 20 years left at least hundreds dead and scores missing in migrant boat sinking on Thursday. The boat carrying about 500 asylum seekers from Eritrea and Somalia went down in flames after the desperate migrants tried to alert fishing boats by lighting a blanket and inadvertently setting fire to leaking fuel. Three hundreds are feared dead.
Hundreds dead, missing in Italy migrant boat disaster

"We were jam-packed, we couldn't even move," some of the 150 survivors told ANSA. "We started jumping into the water when the flames got too high. The fishing boats didn't come and get us". A member of the local fishing fleet said: "We didn't see a thing. If we had, we would have rushed to the scene, of course we would".

"It's horrific, horrific," Lampedusa Mayor Giusi Nicolini told ANSA. "

"Seeing the bodies of the children was a tragedy. We have run out of coffins," said Pietro Bartolo, a doctor. "In many years of work here, I have never seen anything like this," he said.

"This is a tragedy without precedent. In many years of work here I have never seen anything like this," Pietro Bartolo, a local doctor, was quoted by the Italian news agency ANSA as saying.

"We don't need ambulances unfortunately, we need hearses," Dr Bartolo said.

"There are still hundreds missing," he added.

Pope Francis, who visited Lampedusa in July to plead for more tolerance and attention to the plight of refugees, called for prayers.

"This is shameful," the Pope said at a Vatican conference. "Let us join forces so these tragedies never happen again."


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