LAMPEDUSA, Italy — Italian coast guard boats carrying divers headed out from the southern island of Lampedusa on Friday, but choppy waters hampered their search for the hundreds of migrants still missing in a nearby shipwreck.
The scope of the tragedy at Lampedusa — with 111 bodies recovered so far, 155 people rescued and up to an estimated 250 still missing, according to officials — prompted outpourings of grief and demands for a comprehensive European Union immigration policy to deal with the tens of thousands of migrants fleeing poverty and strife in Africa and the Middle East.
Pope Francis called Friday a "day of tears," denouncing the "savage" system that he said drives people to leave their homes for a better life, yet doesn't care when they die in the process.
The 66-foot smuggler's boat was carrying migrants from Eritrea, Ghana and Somalia, when it caught fire early Thursday near the Lampedusa port, Italian authorities said. The fire panicked those on board the rickety boat. They stampeded to one side, flipping it over, and hundreds of men, women and children, many of whom could not swim, were flung into the Mediterranean Sea.
Italian coast guard ships, fishing boats and helicopters from across the region have taken part in the search and rescue operations. Coast guard divers late Thursday found the wreck on the sea floor, 130 feet below the surface, with bodies scattered around it.