Italian magistrates have launched an investigation into the shipwreck of a boat off the coast of Sicily that cost the lives of up to 50 would-be immigrants.
The 10 metre long wooden vessel went down after being approached by an Italian navy ship, and one hypotheses being investigated is that movements of panic caused the accident.
Ten bodies have been recovered and a further forty people are reported missing.
The French Interior Minister Minister Giuliano Amato said the tragedy was the result of the criminial traffic in illegal immigrants, and said those organising the traffic needed to be punished in order to prevent such tragedies happening again.
More than 20 000 illegal immigrants arrived by sea to Italy last year, and in Spain too the traffic shows no sign of abating. 17 000 have arrived on the Canary Islands this year, more than 800 just this weekend, fleeing poverty in their home countries.
The Spanish government has called for help from the European Union to help find a solution to the problem.