Lampedusa Survivor: Nobody Helped

World | October 8, 2013, Tuesday // 11:05|  views

Survivors of Lampedusa shipwreck tragedy claim an Italian vessel spotted them in trouble off the coast, but did nothing. Photo by CNN

At the port in Lampedusa, recovery teams continue to fill trucks with the bodies they're still pulling from the sea among criticism that the Italian coast guard was too slow to respond.

The official death toll is now 232.

One of the survivors - Hamid Mohammad, 18 – told CNN he swears an Italian vessel spotted them in trouble off the coast, but did nothing.

"The Italian's boat started circling around us. They circled our boat twice, then just went away," he said. "That's when people started to panic."

Germani Nagassi, 30, told CNN he'll never forget what he saw.

"For five hours we were floating, using the dead bodies of our companions," he said. "There is nothing worse than this. There were many children. There was a mother with her four children, a mother with an infant, all lost at sea. My mind is scarred and in a terrible condition."

A boat packed with around 500 Eritrean and Somali migrants capsized and sank near Lampedusa on Thursday after its captain set fire to a T-shirt to signal distress to coast guards, sparking panic on board.

Lampedusa, not far from Sicily and the closest Italian island to Africa, has become a destination for tens of thousands of refugees seeking to enter European Union countries.

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Tags: Lampedusa, boat, tragedy, Italy, refugees


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