Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ship capsizes off Italy; more than 100 African migrants die

ROME — The rickety fishing boat was the third of the night to head toward the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, overloaded with African migrants seeking a better life in Europe. Most never reached shore.

After the boat started taking on water, someone on board set a small fire to get the attention of passing ships. The flames spread and panicked passengers surged to one side away from the fire. The vessel capsized, and hundreds of men, women and children were flung into the Mediterranean Sea. Many didn't know how to swim.

At least 114 people died and about 200 were still unaccounted for late Thursday, Italian officials said.

"We need only caskets, certainly not ambulances," said Pietro Bartolo, chief of Lampedusa health services.

It was one of the deadliest accidents in the perilous crossing thousands make each year, seeking a new life in the prosperous European Union. Smugglers charge thousands of dollars a head for the journey aboard overcrowded, barely seaworthy boats that lack life vests.

Lampedusa, 70 miles off Tunisia and closer to Africa than the Italian mainland, has been at the center of wave after wave of illegal immigration.

Between 450 and 500 people were thought to be on board the 66-foot boat, which set sail from the Libyan capital, Tripoli, carrying migrants from Eritrea, Ghana and Somalia. The boat capsized about a half-mile from Lampedusa; health commissioner Antonio Candela said only 159 were rescued.

"It's an immense tragedy," Mayor Giusi Nicolini said.

Italian coast guard ships, fishing boats and helicopters from across the region searched for survivors. Rescue crews hauled body bags by the dozens at Lampedusa port, lining them up under multicolored tarps on the docks.

Survivors packed Lampedusa's detention center for migrants, along with those aboard the two other smugglers' boats, which reached shore safely. More than 1,000 people were squeezed into a space built for 250. Medical workers scrambled to treat the injured.

Migrants who arrive in Lampedusa are processed in centers, screened for asylum and often sent back home.

Ship capsizes off Italy; more than 100 African migrants die 10/03/13 [Last modified: Thursday, October 3, 2013 10:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Toddler, 1, drowns in spa at birthday party in Trinity

    Accidents

    TRINITY — A toddler drowned at a birthday party Saturday evening and died at the hospital, authorities say, after his parents found him in a spa.

  2. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday

    Blogs

    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.
  3. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start

    College

    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  4. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  5. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.