Death toll up to 194 in migrant boat sinking in Italy

Oct. 7, 2013 at 8:04 AM  |  Updated Oct. 7, 2013 at 9:48 AM   |   Comments

LAMPEDUSA, Italy, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Divers recovered dozens of bodies from the wreckage of a boat carrying African immigrants that sank last week, bringing the death toll to 194, ANSA reported.

About 169 people are still missing in the waters off the island of Lampedusa after the recovery Sunday of 83 bodies, the news service reported Monday.

The boat was one of many that regularly smuggle immigrants from North Africa onto Sicily and other Italian islands. The vessel's motor died off Lampedusa and then caught fire when the skipper lit a signal fire on the deck to attract attention.

The boat was carrying about 518 migrants, mostly Eritreans and Somalis.

The BBC said 155 survivors were picked up, mainly by fishing boats in the area. The Italian coast guard has denied it was slow to respond to the report of the sinking.

Italian Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge visited Lampedusa Sunday and called for the reform of Italy's tough immigration law, which makes being an undocumented migrant a criminal offense, ANSA said.

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