4 October a day of mourning in Italy

Italy’s prime minister has proclaimed 4 October as a national day of mourning and Cécile Kyenge, minister for integration, has said that all schools will respect a minute’s silence to mark the tragedy off the coast of Lampedusa in which over 300 people have lost their loves. The boat was carrying some 500 immigrants mainly from Eritrea and Somalia. So far 111 bodies have been recovered and 155 people have been saved.

4 October is also marked in Italy as the day of one of its patron saints, St Francis of Assisi.

4 October is the day that Pope Francis has chosen to pay his first visit as pope to Assisi. In his first address from the city of St Francis he called today "a day of tears" in reference to the tragedy off the coast of Lampedusa.

The first visit of Pope Francis outside Rome was to the island of Lampedusa in July to bring hope and solidarity to the immigrants who land there and those who help them.

It has been suggested that the island of Lampedusa should be nominated for the Nobel Peace prize for its assistance to all the immigrants who land on its coast in search of a better life.

Lampedusa is situated half way between Tunisia and Malta. It is about 120 kms from Tunisia and about 180 kms from Sicily.