Italy to hold state funeral for migrants
Posted Friday, October 11 2013 at 01:00
Rome- Italy is to hold a state funeral for the hundreds of migrants who died after their boat capsized close to the island of Lampedusa last Thursday.
Prime Minister Enrico Letta made the announcement during a visit to the island with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Mr Barroso pledged 30m euros (about Shs100 billion ) of EU funds to help refugees in Italy.
Divers have recovered 302 bodies from the wreck.
Of more than 500 people who had been on board the boat, mostly from Eritrea and Somalia, only 155 survived.
On Wednesday afternoon, the bodies of two women and two men were brought to the surface.
The sinking is one of Italy’s worst disasters involving a boat carrying Europe-bound migrants from Africa.
Lampedusa is a key destination for such boats and many residents have long complained that the authorities in Italy and the European Union are not doing enough to deal with the thousands of migrants who come ashore each year.
Mother and baby
Mr Barroso and Mr Letta visited the temporary mortuary holding the coffins of the victims and met survivors and those who had helped in the rescue.
The two men were heckled on their arrival in Lampedusa, with shouts of “disgrace” and “killers”.
Speaking at a joint news conference, Mr Barroso said he would never forget the sight of hundreds of coffins.