At Least 94 Dead, Hundreds Missing After Shipwreck Off Italian CoastS

At least 94 people were killed and hundreds more are missing after a ship carrying African migrants to Europe caught fire and capsized off the coast of an Italian island on Thursday. Authorities say as many as 500 people may have been on the boat, which reportedly left from Libya earlier in the week.

“We need only caskets, certainly not ambulances,” said Pierto Bartolo, the chief of health services on the Italian island of Lampedusa. Just 70 miles from Tunisia, Lampedusa is closer to Africa than it is to Italy's mainland, making it frequent stop for boats containing migrants.

Victims reportedly include citizens from Somalia, Eritrea, and Ghana, and at least one child and a pregnant woman. “It's horrific, like a cemetery, they are still bringing them out,” Lampedusa Mayore Giusy Nicolini told Reuters.

The Pope, who visited Lampedusa in July, tweeted a prayer for the victims, and Italy's Interior Minister relocated to the island to oversee rescue operations.

This is the deadly second ship wreck off the coast of Italy this week; on Monday, 13 men drowned near Sicily when their ship ran aground.

[Image via AP]