Originally published in The Gospel Herald
At least 700 migrants, mostly Eritrean women and children, drowned in their perilous attempt to reach Italy’s shores. Their journey ended in a shipwreck on the Mediterranean Sea in a span of three days.
Survivors broke in tears recounting the tragedy of how women and children cried and begged for help as their boat capsized. Within a few moments, many of them disappeared to the sea bottom.
“When morning came, I saw how the women and children cried as everybody struggled to fetch the waters off the boat, but to no avail. We began to sink,” Habtom Tekle, a 27-year-old Eritrean, told the Associated Press.
A fishing boat with 500 Eritreans aboard was towing the smaller boat Tekle, where another 500 were in. As the smaller boat began to capsize the fishing boat’s skipper had the tow line cut, according to Save the Children.
“I started to cry when I saw the situation. There were many women and children and for me it was very shocking,” said 21-year-old Filmon Selomon. He was in the fishing boat, and could not do anything for those in the smaller boat.
Authorities said all the 300 people in the boat’s lower deck had died. The 200 others in the upper deck plunged into the sea and only 90 of them were rescued.
About 100 people went missing in another shipwreck last Wednesday off the coast of Libya. The third incident was last Friday where 45 people died and an undetermined number of people were missing.
Rescuers have so far recovered a total of 60 bodies that included three infants from the three separate incidents.
Giovanna Di Benedetto, a spokeswoman for Save the Children, said they have received unconfirmed reports of another vessel full of migrants sunk last Thursday.
Pope Francis earlier met over 400 children at the Vatican to talk about migration, urging them to welcome migrants because they “are not dangerous, but in danger.”
He also invited them to recite with him the Hail Mary prayer to honor the young refugees from war-torn countries who died at sea while trying to reach more hospitable shores.