93 immigrants are reported dead in another tragic boat incident in Sicilian waters, the second in a week. The latest deaths occurred in a fire on a boat off the island of Lampedusa on 3 October.
It is thought that the immigrants set fire to a blanket to attract attention on shore and that the flames then spread. Women and young children are among the dead. It is believed that 150 of the boat people have been saved but the vessel is thought to have been carrying about 500 people.
The mayor of Lampedusa is reported as saying that there are so many bodies that they don't know where to put them. A doctor on the spot has said that he has never seen anything as bad since he has been working on the island.
Italy's ministry of the Interior, Angelino Alfano, has left Rome for the scene of the tragedy. Pope Francis, who visited Lampedusa in July, has called the deaths a “vergogna” and is offering prayers for the victims.
This tragedy follows another off the coast of Ragusa in Sicily on Monday when 13 young men lost their lives when they were forced to jump off the craft into the rough water and drowned.
According to figures in the Fortress Europe blog, based only on numbers reported in the international media, 144 people have died off the coast of Italy since mid-June.
The blog reports in an article under the heading Il cimitero chiamato Mediterraneo that 19,142 have died in the last 25 years along Mediterranean coasts in their attempts to reach European countries.