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Italy salvages sunken migrant ship that killed hundreds in 2015

Italy has raised from the sea floor a migrant ship that sank off Sicily last year, causing the deaths of between 700-800 people. Prime Minister Renzi has vowed to identify and bury all that were trapped on board.

After fighting bad weather and logistical constraints, the Italian navy was able on Wednesday to lift from the sea floor a migrant ship whose wreck

caused the deaths of between 700 and 800 people in April last year

. The disaster was one of the worst on record.

Using a complicated pulley system and robotic arms to ensure that none of the bodies were lost, the navy was successful in lifting the vessel from a depth of 370 meters (1,214 feet) and begin the task of towing it to Sicily.

The risky operation was carried out by two independent diving and heavy lifting companies under the military's supervision.

Rome has vowed to identity, using DNA or fingerprints, every one of the bodies on board and afford them a proper burial. Some 169 victims of the tragedy have already been recovered near the wreckage by divers over the past few months.

The April 15, 2015 wreck saw only 28 passengers rescued on a boat carrying upwards of 700 migrants, most of them African. The hundreds drowned as they were locked below decks when the vessel capsized, as the smugglers bringing them to Europe fled at the sight of a civilian freighter.

The ship containing the refugees then collided with the Portuguese merchant vessel, which had been responding to its SOS signal.

The incident was one of the deadliest in a series of tragedies in the Mediterranean that has cost the lives of more than 10,000 people since Europe's influx of refugees began to gather steam in mid-2013. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has said that the expensive salvage and identification operations are to highlight the individual human cost of the migrant crisis and its causes.

es/jr (AP, AFP)

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