ROME, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- The toll of ascertained deaths in the migrant shipwreck near the Italian island of Lampedusa rose to 232 on Monday, as divers recovered another 38 bodies from under the boat that sank last week, local media reports said.
The 20-meter fishing vessel is thought to have been carrying 518 people, mostly Eritreans and Somalis, when it went down, meaning that 131 people are still missing.
Only 155 survived the disaster. The victims also included several woman and some children.
The search for missing bodies was complicated by difficult eather conditions on Monday. "When we left the boat, around 45 meters deep, we could still see several bodies piled and stiff," one of the deep-sea divers told Rai state television.
President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said he would visit Lampedusa on Wednesday "in the spirit of European support and solidarity" expressed by the Commission following the tragic event.
The European Commission continues to be "fully committed to work on further measures and concrete actions that can be taken at European and national level to address the plight of the refugees and the difficulties of the member states affected," the commission said in a statement.
Like other Italian authorities, Italy's Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge renewed calls for reform of the Italian immigration law which makes being an undocumented migrant a criminal offence.
"Italy is these days in the middle of a wave of refugees who are not immigrants, legal or illegal ... the real problem is to solve the knot of political asylum," Italian President Giorgio Napolitano was quoted as saying by ANSA news agency.
ANSA also reported taht the Italian government was working on changing current asylum laws based on three European Union directives, according to preliminary work carried out during a technical workshop on Monday.
Hundreds of African migrants have landed at Italian southern shores since Thursday's disaster, the latest in a string that occurs each year off Lampedusa. The island's temporary immigrant reception center was reported to be heavily overcrowded.
The tiny island, which is less than 115 kilometers away from Africa, has offered rescue efforts and shelter for some of the some 30,000 migrants this year alone. But thousands have died over the past few years while attempting the perilous Mediterranean crossing in search for a better life in Europe.
The Italian government has promised that the country's position on the very front lines will be a major theme at the next European summits.