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More Than 130 Killed As Boat Sinks


Body bags containing African migrants, who drowned trying to reach Italian shores

Body bags containing African migrants, who drowned trying to reach Italian shores

At least 134 people died and more than 200 are missing after a boat carrying some 500 migrants sank off of southern Italy on October 3.

Initial reports put the death toll at 94, but Italian rescue divers found 40 more bodies trapped inside and under the sunken vessel, just a few hundred meters from the shore.

Many passengers threw themselves into the sea after the vessel encountered difficulty and caught fire near the southern island of Lampedusa. More than 150 people were rescued from the sea.

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, said most of the victims were from Eritrea and Somalia. UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edward called the accident a "tremendous tragedy."

Pope Francis, who had visited Lampedusa Island in July, offered his condolences via Twitter: "Pray to God for the victims of the shipwreck off Lampedusa."

The Italian government has declared October 4 to be a national day of mourning for the victims. Italy's Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge urged the European Union to "adopt humanitarian corridors" for migrants fleeing "wars or conflicts."

Lampedusa lies between Tunisia and Sicily and is a major entryway for migrants into the European Union.

Earlier this week, some 13 migrants drowned as their ship ran aground off of Sicily.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, dpa, and AP
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