LAMPEDUSA: Divers in Italy recovered 83 more bodies on Sunday (Monday in Manila) after a shipwreck in which over 300 African refugees are feared to have died, as a government minister called for an easing of immigration rules.
Divers working at a depth of nearly 50 meters described nightmarish scenes under water: bodies trapped in the wreckage, locked in a final embrace or lying on the seabed covered in sand.
“We saw a lot of bodies piled up in every part of the ship. Wherever we looked, there were bodies,” Antonio D’Amico, a police diver, told reporters.
Divers hope to finish their grim task by Tuesday.
The official death toll now stands at 194, with 155 other asylum seekers rescued after their boat caught fire and sank off the island of Lampedusa on Thursday, but scores more are still missing.
As the black body bags were brought to shore, Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge was on the dock and a representative of Pope Francis blessed each one before they were taken to an airport hangar.
“The law on immigration cannot be punitive,” said Kyenge, who was nominated as Italy’s first black minister this year and has faced racist abuse.