Survivors of 2013 shipwreck honor dead on Italian island

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© David Lohmueller

Migrants arrive at the Lampedusa island, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. (Sea-Watch.org/David.Lohmueller via AP)

LAMPEDUSA – Survivors of a 2013 capsizing, one of the Mediterranean's more deadly migrant tragedies, on Sunday joined residents of a tiny Italian isle in an anniversary ceremony to honor the 368 people who died.

Participants in the memorial tossed flowers into the crystalline waters off Lampedusa, a southern Italian island closer to North Africa than to the Italian mainland.

Many of the dead in the Oct. 3, 2013 accident were Eritreans and Ethiopians. They were trapped in the boat when it overturned or drowned trying to swim ashore. The capsizing occurred just off an uninhabited islet and less than a kilometer (half-mile) from Lampedusa itself.

Among those who journeyed to the island were survivors from the capsizing of the crowded boat, one of countless vessels that human traffickers had launched from Libyan shores.

A Catholic priest and an imam participated in the seaside service.

Even as the dead were remembered, Italian coast guard boats were bringing ashore some of the more than 600 migrants rescued since late Saturday from more than a dozen boats in the Mediterranean Sea. Those brought to safety from the boats included a four-month-old infant and a sheep, Sicilian media said.

The migrants were being transferred to an unused passenger ferry so they can protectively quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. The sheep was examined by a veterinarian, the reports said.

With the latest arrivals, the number of migrants currently being sheltered on Lampadusa swelled beyond 900. The residence for rescued migrants has a capacity of 250, and the structure is chronically overcrowded.

Migrants seeking asylum often see Italy reject their bids for protective status because they are fleeing poverty and not war, other conflict or persecution.

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