Rescuers recover immigrants' bodies18/06/2003 - 07:45:44
Italian rescue ships have recovered the bodies of seven immigrants who drowned off the North African coast when their ship capsized.
Several survivors had been plucked from the Mediterranean near Lampedusa island by a fishing boat after the ship sank two days ago.
The dozens of people on board were believed to be trying to reach Sicily.
The latest tragedy involving small craft filled with would-be immigrants came just days after a senior Italian government minister was quoted as saying boats carrying illegal immigrants should be shot out of the water.
Umberto Bossi, head of the far-right Northern League, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper he was “sick” of illegal immigrants.
“After the second or third warning, boom... the cannon roars,” it quoted him as saying.
His ministry later said his views had been misrepresented. Corriere della Sera said it stood by its story.
“The idea of welcoming illegal immigrants with cannon shots is an idea worthy of a caveman,” said Marco Follini of the Christian Democratic Union of the Centre (UDC) party.
“Bossi wants to hear the roar of cannon shots – many other people would prefer Bossi to remain silent.”
Official figures released in Italy on Saturday showed that in the first six months of 2003, nearly 5,300 illegal immigrants were known to have entered the country, down from 10,400 in the same period last year.
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