CATANIA, Sicily — After months of painstaking autopsies, authorities on Tuesday put the death toll in the April 2015 migrant shipwreck at between 750-800 people, confirming survivors’ initial estimates.
The head of Italy’s office of missing people, Vittorio Piscitelli, told a news conference that a more precise number can be known only after further examination of the remains, “to substitute the numbers with names.”
With only 28 survivors, the April 18, 2015 shipwreck off the coast of Libya remains the deadliest known migrant tragedy. The Italian government, reacting to global outrage, recovered the wreck from the seabed floor earlier this year. It has been working to identify the dead to allow remains to be returned to loved ones where possible.
The work on the identification is expected to take years, hampered by political and economic conditions that caused many migrants to flee home and by the poor condition of the remains.
Two-thirds of the dead were men between the ages of 20 and 30 and one-third were adolescents ages 15-17. There was one child, a 7-year-old boy. Most were from sub-Saharan African nations.