Divers set to resume Italy wreck search

काठमाण्डु टुडे २०७० असोज २० गते १४:३० मा प्रकाशित

             LAMPEDUSA, Italy, Oct 06,  (AFP) – Italy said on Sunday it would triple space in refugee centres to cope with the influx of asylum seekers after a shipwreck in which 300 people are feared dead, as divers prepared to resume their grim search.The operation to recover more bodies from the wreck on top of the 111 found so far has been suspended since Friday because of rough seas but officials said they could restart later on Sunday.

“We are checking the conditions. We hope to be able to resume at 2:00 pm (1200 GMT),” Leonardo Ricci, a spokesman for the rescuers, told AFP.There is a plan to raise the corpse-filled wreck, which lies at a depth of 47 metres (154 feet) less than a kilometre from the shore of the remote island of Lampedusa, Italy’s southernmost territory.Rocco Cannel, who owns a local diving school, said he was the first to see the wreck after Thursday’s tragedy, and it was “not a sight I’ll ever forget”.”

I saw about 20 bodies outside the wreck, on the exterior and lying slightly covered on the sand. When I got a bit closer I saw there were other bodies inside the wreck,” Cannel said.Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge, who was due to visit the island on Sunday, told the Corriere della Sera daily that the current 8,000 spaces for refugees in Italy had to increase.

“I am planning to bring the number of bed spaces first to 16,000 and then to 24,000,” she said.She also called for reform of an immigration law that considers all irregular migrants suspects in the crime of “clandestinity” and punishes anyone accused of facilitating their landings.

“The law on immigration cannot be punitive. The migratory flux has fundamentally changed. We have to understand it and change our laws,” she said.Kyenge said that previously most of the arrivals were economic migrants, but that now they were mostly refugees fleeing war and persecution.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has called for a meeting of European countries on border management following the tragic shipwreck.Italy has asked for the growing refugee influx to be put on the agenda of a meeting of European interior ministers in Luxembourg on Tuesday.

On Lampedusa, local authorities struggled to cope with the new arrivals. The island’s refugee centre has 250 places but is now housing more than 1,000 people including those from previous landings.Many have been forced to sleep outside.

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