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Lampedusa Shipwreck: Sirens Sound to Remember Eritrean Victims

An emotional memorial has been held in Lampedusa for 368 migrants who perished at sea exactly a decade ago after their ship caught fire.

Most of those of those who died were from Eritrea in what is one of the worst disasters to hit migrants trying to reach Europe from Libya.

The Lampedusa Coastguard organised a special trip to the disaster site for the relatives and survivors.

Horns and sirens from its vessels sounded out in memory of the victims.

“The bodies of our friends never received a proper burial. Their families have been in a perpetual state of mourning, unable to conduct customary funeral rites,” Eritrean Solomon Assefa, one of the 150 survivors, told the BBC.

“That is why we make this pilgrimage to Lampedusa every year, offering prayers.”

The day began with a solemn candlelit vigil at 03:00 to mark the exact time the ship, which had been carrying more than 500 migrants, began to sink.

The tragedy occurred close to the Italian island’s shoreline. Passengers threw themselves into the sea when a fire broke out on board.

Most of the dead were from Eritrea – a repressive one-party state in the Horn of Africa.

Alex said he came to Lampedusa every October to honour his lost comrades and to express gratitude for his own survival.

Some of the survivors and relatives have come to the island for the first time since the disaster.

Kokob Dawit, whose mother and two brothers were among the dead, told the BBC that she came to feel closer to her lost family.

Overcome with emotion, she said: “I can’t explain the pain I am feeling now, I can’t even talk, the pain is too much.”

Everyone here has a touching story of loss.

Amanuel Mekonnen said he had made the trip to try and find some peace by remembering his brother, sister-in-law and niece who were lost in the accident.

Italians who had helped in rescue efforts and students were amongst those who joined the tearful commemoration.

Source : BBC