Italy aims to resume search for bodies in shipwreck tragedy

Italy aims to resume search for bodies in shipwreck tragedy
Migrants sit in a coach as they wait to be transferred to an immigration centre after they arrived on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa.

LAMPEDUSA, Italy - Italian emergency services hoped to resume the search for bodies Saturday despite rough seas after the worst ever Mediterranean shipwreck tragedy, in which 111 African asylum-seekers are confirmed dead and around 200 more are still missing.

With the search for bodies off the island of Lampedusa suspended Friday due to bad weather, an emotional Pope Francis said it was "a day of tears" in a "savage world" that ignored refugees.

The government asked Europe to help stem the influx of migrants, as the country mourned the dead.

Islanders in the tiny fishing community held a mass and a silent torch-lit procession, as flags across Italy flew at half mast Friday and schools marked a minute of silence.

"This is a really important ceremony for the victims and for us," said Michele Rossi, a local shopkeeper. "We are used to doing our best to save people but we have never seen anything like this."

Emergency services on the remote island - Italy's southernmost point - said they had recovered 111 bodies so far and rescued 155 survivors from a boat with an estimated 450 to 500 people on board.

Rescuers said strong currents around the island may have swept other bodies further out to sea but they were no longer able to leave the port because of strong winds and two-metre (seven-foot) waves.

"There is horror down there. Dozens of corpses, maybe hundreds," Rocco Canell, who runs a local diving school and went down before the search was halted, told the Italian news agency ANSA.

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