ROME, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) - Search teams on Sunday recovered dozens of other bodies from the fishing boat that sank on Thursday near to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, bringing the number of ascertained dead to 194.
The official toll of the victims continued to increase all day long. According to the 155 survivors, there were a total of 518 African migrants on the ship coming from Libya, meaning that 169 bodies are still missing.
"I saw the hair of a woman out of a porthole, I could not grasp her but I am sure that there are piles of bodies in the hold," one of the search team's divers was quoted as saying by Rai state television.
"Every human life that we lose is a contribution that is lost. What happened should not happen anymore," Italy's Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge told a press conference during her visit on the island on Sunday.
Kyenge defined as "dishonorable" the overcrowded conditions at Lampedusa's temporary immigrant reception center, whose capacity of 800 people has been greatly exceeded by numerous boat migrants.
Italian Minister for European affairs Enzo Moavero agreed with her that the European Union (EU) must act "without delay" and take "innovative and concrete" decisions in order to prevent such tragedies from repeating.
Italy's position on the very front lines will be a major theme at the EU summit scheduled for Oct. 24-25, Moavero said. He added the issue of immigration in Europe is "essential" in the same way as the economic crisis.
The 20-meter fishing vessel carrying the asylum seekers mainly from Eritrea and Somalia, including dozens of women and children, caught fire and sank early Thursday, the latest in a string that occurs each year off Lampedusa.
The island, Italy's southernmost point, is less than 115 km away from Africa and has offered rescue efforts and shelter for some of the 30,000 migrants this year alone.
According to experts, most of the migrants trying the crossing to Italy have the goal of a different final destination in Europe.
"I am here to search for my brother who was on the boat, and I know that he is probably under the sea," an Eritrean national told Rai. "He was trying to reach me in Sweden, where I have been living since I also came from Libya on a ship years ago," he added.
Thousands have died attempting the packed Mediterranean crossing out for a better life in Italy. Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said last week that the victims of this latest disaster have been posthumously awarded Italian citizenship.