< Previous Page
"Let us hope that the European Union realizes this isn’t an Italian problem but a European one," Alfano said as he headed to Lampedusa to oversee the recovery operation.
In a tweet, EU Home Affairs Minister Cecilia Malstrom called for a redoubling of efforts to "fight smugglers exploiting human despair."
Pope Francis, who visited Lampedusa in July to bemoan the frequent deaths of migrants, sent his condolences.
"It is shameful!" he said during an audience at the Vatican.
Hundreds of migrants reach Italy’s shores every day, particularly during the summer, when seas are usually calmer. According to the U.N. refugee agency, 8,400 migrants landed in Italy and Malta in the first six months of this year, almost double the 4,500 who arrived during the first half of 2012. The numbers have spiked in recent weeks, particularly from Syria.
Still, they are a far cry from the tens of thousands who flooded to Italy — many through Lampedusa — during the Arab Spring exodus of 2011.
Before Thursday’s tragedy, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees had recorded 40 deaths in the first half of 2013 for migrants arriving in Italy and Malta.
Last year, that route saw 500 deaths.
Associated Press writer Frank Jordans contributed from Berlin.
Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.