Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 14 December 2019

Death toll from Lampedusa migrant shipwreck rises to 18

Five bodies found by Italian coastguard on Sunday

Italian coastguards carry the body of a migrant victim of a boat that capsized off the Italian coast, on the island of Lampedusa, Italy November 30, 2019. REUTERS/Mauro Buccarello
Italian coastguards carry the body of a migrant victim of a boat that capsized off the Italian coast, on the island of Lampedusa, Italy November 30, 2019. REUTERS/Mauro Buccarello

The bodies of five migrants who died when a boat capsized in rough waters off the southern coast of Lampedusa a week ago have been found, Italy's coastguard said on Sunday, bringing the death toll to 18.

The boat, which survivors said left Libya to take advantage of a respite in bad weather, was believed to carry about 170 people.

The Lampedusa coastguard took 147 migrants safely to shore after the accident on November 23.

After bad weather blocked search operations for several days, on Sunday six coastguard divers helped by a remotely operated submarine found four bodies underwater and a fifth floating.

"We can only listen to the silence of the dead," Lampedusa mayor Totò Martello said.

"We're alone in rescuing their bodies at sea, in weeping for them and burying them. We're surrounded by silence and indifference."

Prosecutors in the Sicilian town of Agrigento are investigating the accident. A judicial source said that based on interviews with the survivors, the missing people were mostly Tunisian, Algerian and Pakistani.

More than 1,100 migrants have died or are missing at sea after trying to cross the Mediterranean this year, the International Organisation for Migration says.

Updated: December 2, 2019 12:42 AM

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