Raised from the sea bed: Wreck which was tomb for hundreds of migrants

The wreck of an overcrowded boat which sank in the Mediterranean killing hundreds of migrants was raised from the sea bed on Wednesday. The vessel, which is thought to have had nearly 1,000 people on board when it went down in April last year, was lifted to the surface by the Italian navy using specialist robotic equipment. The wreckage was then towed in a refrigerated transport structure to a Sicilian port by a navy barge. On its return to land it will be examined by experts who hope to discover what caused it to sink.

They are men and women like us – our brothers seeking a better life, starving, persecuted, wounded, exploited, victims of war,

Pope Francis speaking last year after the disaster

The disaster on April 18 was one of the deadliest shipwrecks in decades of seaborne migration from North Africa towards Europe. Only 28 people survived as it went down about 135 km (85 miles) north of Libya, from where it departed. Although the Italian navy has recovered 118 bodies, hundreds of corpses are believed to be trapped below deck, where survivors said migrants including many women and children were locked. The sinking led to the creation of Operation Sophia, the European effort involving a dozen naval craft patrolling off the coast of Libya to help migrant vessels.