ROME: The Italian navy said Wednesday it has recovered the migrant ship that sank off Sicily last year with an estimated 700 people onboard in one of the worst known tragedies of the Mediterranean migrant crisis.
The navy said it had raised the boat toward the surface from a depth of 370 meters (1,214 feet). The wreck is being kept in a refrigerated transport structure, where forensic experts will begin trying to identify the victims.
A press conference to explain details of the operation is scheduled for Thursday, the navy said.
The April 18, 2015 wreck remains one of the deadliest on record, though the real number of drownings will never be known. On that night, the boat carrying between 700 and 800 migrants, most of them African, capsized as a civilian freighter approached.
Most passengers were locked below decks; only 28 survived.
The sinking sparked renewed outrage and soul-searching in European capitals, which agreed to send in EU naval reinforcements to cast a wider safety net to try to rescue the waves of migrants leaving Libya on smugglers’ boats.
Most of the migrant boats that sink are never recovered, and the dead are never exhumed or identified. Soon after the tragedy, Italy pledged to recover the relic and is hoping that the exercise will help create a European network to identify victims by cross-checking data.