Rome, Oct 8 (IANS/EFE) The official death toll in last week’s capsizing of a boat carrying Eritrean and Somali migrants rose to 232 Monday after divers managed to recover another 38 bodies from the sunken vessel, Italian authorities said.
The divers recovered 17 bodies Monday morning off the island of Lampedusa and another 21 during the afternoon, coast guard sources said.
The latest recoveries came on the second consecutive day of underwater operations after two days on which the work had been halted due to bad weather and rough seas.
The search will continue Tuesday if maritime conditions permit and the task is a complicated one, according to one of the divers, who said that the bodies trapped in the sunken vessel “are all stuck together.”
Statements of the 155 survivors of the shipwreck indicate that the vessel, which departed from North Africa headed for the coast of a European country, was carrying 518 people, and thus about 150 bodies have not yet been recovered.
The boat’s engine broke down near Lampedusa and the passengers fired off flares to attract passing ships, but the flames ignited gasoline on the deck and started a fire.
Migrants rushing to one side of the vessel to escape the flames caused the boat to capsize.