LAMPEDUSA — An Italian government minister born in Africa watched wordlessly Sunday as soldiers wearing face masks carried body bags containing migrants from her continent who perished when a fishing boat transporting 500 asylum seekers from Eritrea sank within sight of the tiny island of Lampedusa.
Divers recovered 70 more bodies after seas calmed enough to resume search operations after a two-day suspension, increasing the death toll to at least 181. More than 150 others are presumed to be missing, trapped in the wreckage about 165 feet below the surface.
Search operations will continue "as long as the sea is calm and there is light," police Maj. Leonardo Ricci said.
Italy has been receiving signs of solidarity from its European partners. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso plans to visit the island Wednesday. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Europe must act to stem the migrant tragedy, adding that both France and Italy have asked that the subject be placed on the agenda of Tuesday's EU interior ministers' meeting.