UK & World News
Lampedusa Tragedy Leaves 350 Feared Dead
Up to 350 people are feared dead after a boat carrying African asylum seekers caught fire and sank off Italian shores in one of the worst Mediterranean refugee disasters.
The Italian government has declared an official day of mourning after the tragedy at Lampedusa, and a minute's silence will be held in all schools across the country.
New video shows the rescue operation, with one young man being pulled from the sea by rescue workers.
Italy's minister of integration, Cecile Kyenge, said: "We will work with all the ministers in order to tackle this emergency and to start making a long-term plan to cope with it."
Interior minister Angelino Alfano initially reported 93 victims, including three children and two pregnant women, but rescue divers later said they had identified at least 40 more bodies in and around the sunken wreck.
Up to 500 people were on the boat when it sank on Thursday.
With only 150 survivors recovered from the water more than 12 hours after the disaster, there are fears that the final toll could rise to up to 350 people.
When the boat began to sink, some migrants set fire to a blanket to attract the attention of passing ships. But as the flames spread, some passengers panicked and surged to one side, causing it to overturn.
Locals on the island fought back tears as they spoke of the desperate rush to haul dozens of drowning immigrants out of the sea.
Shopkeeper Alessandro Marino said: "We were spending the night on our boat. We heard screams, and we rushed to see what was going on and found a nightmarish situation."
His friend Sharanna Buonocorso said: "Many of them were crying. Lots were naked, to give themselves the best chance of staying afloat."
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.
Lampedusa, 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.