The Mediterranean yielded another grim harvest of desperate souls on Monday when an overloaded boat of migrants sank, triggering a big Italian rescue operation.
The boat, estimated to be carrying according to Red Cross sources over 400 people, went down in the waters off Lampedusa, near Sicily.
At least 17 deaths are confirmed by the coastguards, although other reports said 40 had died. Some 200 were rescued, but there may be an equivalent number of missing persons.
“Europe knows this drama needs to be dealt with, now we are searching for the tools to manage it. I hope that the answers will arrive as early as the June European Council; Italy will put this issue at the heart of its EU Presidency. This problem concerns not only foreign ministers but also other ministries,” said Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini.
Migrants from Africa heading to Europe are on the rise, with 25,000 arriving on Italian soil already this year. On Sunday 40 died and 51 were rescued when a boat sank off the Libyan coast near Tripoli. The latest tragedy prompted comments on Monday from one of the candidates for the European Presidency, German Social-Democrat Martin Schulz.