Over 300 feared dead in Lampedusa boat disaster

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More than 300 people have drowned or are feared dead after a boat packed with African migrants…

More than 300 people have drowned or are feared dead after a boat packed with African migrants caught fire and capsized off the Italian island of Lampedusa on Thursday. It’s one of the worst disasters of Europe’s chronic immigration crisis.

Many of those making the journey are escaping conflict or persecution. Those on board were from Eritrea and Somalia.

After the boat started taking on water, someone on board set a fire to get the attention of passing ships. The flames spread and panicked passengers surged to one side to avoid the fire.

The vessel capsized, and hundreds of men, women and children who didn’t know how to swim were flung into the Mediterranean Sea.

Bodies pulled from the water were laid out as coast guard vessels brought in more victims.

Angelino Alfano, Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister has asked the EU for more help to fight the immigration crisis:

“Europe must act. Either Europe must act or we cannot say that there is such thing as a supportive, hard-working relationship. And we want that border, the border of Lampedusa, to be considered the border of Europe, not the border of Italy,” he said.

It was one of the deadliest accidents in the perilous crossing thousands of prospective migrants make each year, seeking a new life in the European Union.

Migrants who arrive in Italy are allowed to apply for asylum. Many are ordered to leave the country but slip away to Italy or elsewhere in the European Union.

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