UK & World News
Lampedusa: One Victim Was Heading To The UK
At least one of the victims of the Lampedusa boat tragedy earlier this month was heading to Britain, Sky News has learned.
The brother of Habtom Andemichael, an Eritrean who has lived in the UK for six years and works in a Leeds factory, had called to say he was on board the doomed ship as it left Libya.
When Habtom later heard the ship had sunk off the coast of Lampedusa on October 3, killing 359 passengers, he flew to the Italian island, where he identified the body of 23-year-old Kidane.
He said Kidane - a married father-of-one - had paid a "large amount" of money for the trip as part of his attempt to reach the UK.
Two families in London also say they had relatives on board who have not contacted them since the boat sank.
They are on their way to the island to identify the bodies.
The 12-metre vessel carrying 137 passengers was intercepted by coast guards after it left Libya and was escorted to the island.
Pictures of the recovered bodies are pinned up on noticeboards in a local police station, and families now have the harrowing task of viewing them to see if their loved ones are among them.
Capsized boats have become commonplace in southern Europe, with 25,000 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean in the last 20 years, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
Of these, 2,000 died in 2011 and 1,700 last year.
Italy is planning a large-scale deployment of air and naval forces in the Mediterranean to deal with the influx of migrants heading for Europe.
Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta is expected to meet with his defence, foreign and interior ministers later today to discuss stepping up its search and rescue operation.
It already has three ships patrolling its southern maritime border, assisted by ships and planes from the coast guard and border patrol.
The announcement was made as the latest boat carrying migrants from sub-Saharan Africa arrived on the island of Lampedusa.
Lampedusa, which is 70 miles (110km) off Tunisia and closer to Africa than the Italian mainland, has seen successive waves of illegal immigration.
Migrants who arrive in Lampedusa are processed in centres, screened for asylum and often sent back home.
On Friday, at least 34 people drowned in Maltese waters south of Lampedusa when a boat packed with hundreds of Syrians and Palestinians capsized.
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