More than 100 people died today during a shipwreck off of the coast of Italy.
According to IANS, a boat carrying more than 500 people capsized off of the coast of the southern island Lampedusa. More than 150 people were rescued from the ship but hundreds more are missing.
CNN reports that at least 110 people died in the accidnt.
Prime Minister Enrico Letta said: “I’ve called a meeting of the cabinet to declare a national day of mourning on Friday for the victims of the terrible Lampedusa tragedy.”
The ship was carrying migrants hoping to gain entrance into European Union countries. Lampedusa, which is near Sicily, has become a hot spot for African migrants. The majority of the people on the ship were Eritreans, Ghanaians and Somalis.
Antonio Guterres, the head of the U.N. refugee agency, said: “(We are) dismayed at the rising global phenomenon of migrants and people fleeing conflict or persecution and perishing at sea.”
The coast guard said that there was some wind and rain in the area but they were skeptical that weather was the cause of the shipwreck. The incident is currently being investigated.
Veronica Lentini, who works with the International Organization for Migration, said that these boats usually have a satellite phone to call for help in case of emergency but the passengers today were not equipped to call for help. When the boat started taking on water they may lit a fire to draw attention to the boat. When the fire got out of control, however, the passengers were forced into the water as the boat began to sink.
Lentini said: “Normally, these boats have a satellite phone, or someone on board will call a relative in Italy who alerts the authorities. But in this case, no one advised anyone.”