Written by Bella Dalima
16 May, 2014 | 3:45 pm
Clinging to each other in the shadow of the sunken hull, this young couple are united even in death.
Harrowing underwater footage of the migrant ship that sunk killing more than 300 last autumn has emerged, following another tragic shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa.
As police divers explore the sunken wreck, the bodies of those that did not survive can be seen on board and scattered on the surrounding sea bed. In one heartbreaking image a young couple had remained in a loving embrace even as they drowned.
The ship caught fire and sank last September, just two miles off the island of Lampedusa, killing 366 migrants mostly Somalis and Eritreans. Following the disaster, the worst since 2000, and amid much soul searching, the Italian navy and coastguard stepped up rescue operations.
But the authorities have struggled to intercept boats as gangs of smugglers, encouraged by the rescue efforts, have increased the number of crossings. Already this year 36,000 migrants have landed by boat in Italy, eight-fold last year’s arrivals.
This week a boat carrying hundreds of migrants sunk 100 miles south of Lampedusa. Despite desperate rescue attempts, at least 17 migrants drowned, with many more still missing. Last week at least 40 perished in another wreck when their trawler sank off the coast of Libya.
The release of the footage following the new tragedies recalls the full horror of last year’s wreck when rescue workers described ‘a cemetery in the sea’.
At the time police diver Renato Sollustri said he had not slept since he brought up two corpses, a baby hidden in the folds of his mother’s white leggings, under pulled-down trousers.
The body, which has not yet been identified, is one of 17 so far recovered while 206 people were rescued by patrol boats and merchant ships from the wreck in international waters between Libya and Italy.
Italian media have cited coastguards as saying there were around 400 people on board, which would mean dozens are still unaccounted for. Survivors include two Eritrean children who lost their parents and siblings.
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