Pope Francis prays for the dead and for those who have survived after the bodies of dozens of migrants wash up on an Italian shore.
By Francesca Merlo and Nathan Morley
Another tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea. Pope Francis on Sunday turned his thoughts on to the lives lost in yet another tragedy in which dozens of people lost their lives when their overloaded boat sank in rough seas.
Addressing the faithful gathered for his Sunday Angelus, the Holy Father explained that just off the coast of Calabria in Italy, over 40 bodies, including the bodies of many children, have been recovered.
“I pray for them”, said the Pope, “for those who are lost, and for those who have survived”, he added.
The Holy Father also expressed his gratitude towards all those who participate in rescue operations, as well as to all those who offer welcome to those seeking refuge. “May the Virgin Mary sustain you”, he concluded.
The tragedy occurred at dawn on Sunday. It is understood that the overloaded vessel bringing migrants from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan smashed into rocks during rough weather.
ANSA, the Italian news agency, reports 80 survivors were found on a beach; they told rescuers at least 250 people were on board the fishing boat in which they were traveling.
Twenty-one of the survivors were taken to hospital.
It was later reported 27 bodies were found washed up at a seaside resort, with more spotted at sea – including a baby.
The perilous Mediterranean route
Just last week, a group of African migrants were drowned while dozens went missing when their overloaded boat sank off the Libyan coast.
The Mediterranean route is considered the most dangerous crossing in the world for people seeking refuge in Europe.
Countless rickety, unseaworthy boats packed with migrants have sunk in the area during the last five years.
With better weather arriving across the region, more migrant boats are expected to set sail in the coming weeks.