Italian official: Toll of 2015 migrant wreck could near 700

AP News
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Posted: Jul 14, 2016 2:02 PM

SYRACUSE, Sicily (AP) — Italian navy officials say that the death toll from the April 2015 migrant shipwreck could be closer to the original 700 estimate.

Adm. Nicola de Felice told The Associated Press on Thursday that forensic experts have gathered human remains in 458 body bags from the vessel retrieved this summer from the Mediterranean Sea floor, in addition to the 217 bodies recovered previously.

It will take months to identify the poorly preserved remains, but de Felice said "the number of victims is likely to be higher" than the 675 total of body bags plus cadavers. Officials had lowered the estimate to 500 after the boat's recovery, extrapolating from the number of bodies found.

Survivors of the April 18, 2015 wreck estimated the boat carried 700-800 people. Only 28 survived.