Hundreds of mourners on Friday filed past their coffins, laid out in front of Rome’s city hall, paying last respects to the unnamed men and woman who sought better life but fell victims to cold and hunger instead at sea.
Survivors of the nightmarish 16-day voyage, rescued last Sunday by Italian coastguards, said about 50 more corpses had been dumped at sea.
“I am crying for my brothers,” said on Somali mourner.
About 150 Somali immigrants and several hundred other mourners stood in sombre silence as 13 hearses arrived one by one and city officials placed the coffins on a raised platform.
The tragedy has traumatized many Italians and Rome responded with a formal ceremony to honour the dead at a vast square that was once the heart of the Roman empire.
“I am crying for my brothers”
“I came to express compassion with these people who fled their homeland in search of a better life only to find suffering and death,” an elderly Roman woman said, crying and making the sign of the cross.
Many Somali woman covered their faces in their headscarves, while others held high their national flag.
At least 12 other African immigrants have died in two other shipwrecks off Italy this past week, prompting shrill calls for granting safe passage to immigrants.
Italy’s government has enacted tough legislations to discourage immigrants from sneaking in.
But unmindful of the lurking dangers, rickety old boats are still leaving Tunisia and Libya on a regular basis, packed with immigrants and heading straight for Italy’s shores.
Many of those on board, like the 13 Somalis, never make it.