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VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis called on authorities on Sunday to stop human traffickers operating in the Mediterranean Sea, as he expressed sadness over last week’s migrant boat disaster off Italy’s coast of Calabria that killed dozens.
“I reiterate my call to prevent such tragedies from happening again.
May the trafficking of people be stopped,” the pope said in his weekly address to crowds in St. Peter’s Square. Local authorities say 70 bodies have been recovered so far after the incident. , Iran, Somalia and Syria.
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“May the journey of hope no longer turn into a journey of death, and may the clear waters of the Mediterranean no longer bleed from such a dramatic accident,” the pope said.
About 80 people survived after the boat broke and sank in rough seas near the east coast resort of Steccato di Cutro in the Calabria region. Authorities estimate it transported as many as 200 migrants.
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Three suspected traffickers were arrested this week as prosecutors began investigating how emergency services responded to the disaster after accusations of a slow response by authorities.
Former women’s hockey player from Pakistan dies in Italian shipwreck
“My prayers go out to the many victims of the shipwreck, their families and the survivors,” the pope said. Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s right-wing prime minister, this week called on other EU leaders to do more to stem illegal immigration, praising Pope’s comments.
In a Facebook post, he said the government “is continuing to use all force necessary to combat human traffickers and prevent deaths at sea”.