Eerie footage shows migrant boat wreck as Italy mourns capsize victims

Eerie vision has emerged of the wreck of an African migrant boat which sank off the coast of Italy, which has held a day of mourning for those killed in the tragedy

The boat had set sail from Libya and was less than one kilometre from the shore of the island of Lampedusa when it sank, killing at least 130 people

The footage shows the 20-metre boat lying upright on the seabed more than 40 metres below the surface

Divers say the bodies of many victims are trapped in the wreck of the boat

After 155 people were pulled from the water alive on Thursday, strong winds and metre-high waves made it impossible for divers to safely collect bodies

There is now little hope of finding more survivors from the almost 500 passengers estimated to have been on board

Though the tiny island of Lampedusa takes in thousands of immigrants every year and there have been similar wrecks in the past, residents have been shaken by the sheer size of the tragedy

Local fisherman Marcello Nizza, one of the first to assist in the rescue, has described the horrific scene

Italy mourns victims of migrant boat capsize

«At dawn I could hear screams, voices. But I didn’t really think anything of it. We thought they were seagulls, but then my friend said we need to go out to sea and the scene was dramatic,» he said

«All these people with their arms raised, crying for help. It was just terrible

«At that point we immediately called the port and started picking up these people on the boat, until we picked up 47 of them.»

Some survivors say a passenger set fire to a blanket to try and attract attention after the boat began taking on water

In the panic that ensued it capsized

A day of mourning for the victims has been observed across Italy, with flags flown at half-mast and a minute’s silence observed in schools

Lampedusans also closed gas stations, restaurants and shops. After an evening mass in honour of the victims, hundreds took part in a silent candlelit march

Lampedusa migrant boat sinking

A man holding a cross made from the wood of a wrecked boat led the procession past a banner that said: «We want to welcome the living, not the dead

A black flag bearing the word «shame» was flying over the port, close to a cemetery of rotting boats used by migrants to make past crossings from North Africa

The island of Lampedusa is closer to Africa than it is to the Italian mainland and each year thousands of migrants from Libya and other parts of north Africa try to reach its shores

But the crossing, often made in overcrowded boats, is dangerous

Last year, almost 500 people were reported dead or missing on the crossing from Tunisia to Italy, according to the United Nations refugee agency



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