A traditional annual religious feast day in the Sicilian port city of Catania has this year been used to mourn the deaths of 49 migrants Their bodies were found on Saturday after having suffocated inside the hold a boat carrying them from Libya to Italy.
Instead of the usual fireworks, 49 balloons were released into the air in honour of the victims..Italy’s navy rescued more than 300 other passengers on board the same boat.
The deaths are a grim reminder of how dangerous the passage across the Mediterranean Sea can be. So far this year more than 2,000 have died in the attempt.
According to the Geneva based International Organisation for Migration, the number of migrants who have successfully crossed the Mediterranean in 2015 is approaching a quarter of a million, compared with 219,000 for all of last year.
Saturday’s 49 are to be buried in Catania’s cemetery.