Italian Navy recovers migrant boat which sank 2015 with 700 on board

The Italian Navy has recovered a migrant boat which sank in April 2015 thereby claiming lives of over 600 people.

Of the 700 migrants on board, barely 30 were rescued in what became one of the biggest, documented, Mediterranean Sea migrant tragedies.

Fourteen months after the tragic incident, the Italian Navy staged an elaborate recovery operation at a depth of around 400 meters during which it successfully pulled the vessel to water surface.

Engineers had to custom-develop a rectangular ‘buoy’ to which the sunken boat would be fastened. The construction served for both buoyancy and structural integrity purposes preventing the vessel from disintegrating on its way to the surface.

Once the boat was lifted to surface, it was towed to shore to Sicily where authorities will work on pulling the deceased from the boat’s interior.

Experts will also try and identify the bodies before they are buried.

The small boat had, according to some survivors, up to 800 passengers on board. Before it sank, the boat was approached by a commercial ship trying to render assistance. After the migrant-boat captain steered the boat towards the freighter, panic broke out among the passengers and the boat tipped over.

Some 50 bodies were pulled from the sea after the incident. Further 170 were recovered in subsequent searches of the area. It is estimated that some 600 died because they were trapped in the boat’s interior.

The Italian Navy has also released a video of the operation. While the video is completely in Italian, it provides a detailed insight into what the navy had to do to recover the boat from the ocean bottom.