Mourners pray for migrants killed in shipwreck off Italian coast; Greece’s worst train crash in history leaves many dead

CROTONE, Italy (OSV News) — Archbishop Angelo Raffaele Panzetta of Crotone-Santa Severina joined other faith leaders, local officials and members of the public March 1 in praying for migrants aboard a wooden boat who died in a Feb. 26 shipwreck off the southern Italian coast.

The coffins of those whose bodies were recovered from the water were lined up at the local sports hall in Crotone to allow people to pay their respects to the deceased.

The boat, crowded with about 200 passengers heading to Europe, smashed into rocky reefs and broke apart before dawn Feb. 26 amid rough seas.

According to Reuters, at least 65 people died, with 12 of them children, including a baby. At least 82 passengers survived the shipwreck, an official from Italy’s Crotone prefecture told CNN Feb. 27. Dozens more people were still missing.

A crane lifts part of a destroyed carriage March 2, 2023, as rescuers operate at the site of a train crash near the city of Larissa, Greece. Rescuers searched for survivors in the mangled, burned-out wreckage of two trains that slammed into each other March 1 in northern Greece, killing more than 40 people in the country’s worst rail crash. (OSV News photo/Kostas Mantziaris, Reuters)

Reuters also reported that Italian authorities arrested three people and were looking for a fourth suspect who they believe trafficked the migrants.

“This morning I learned with sorrow of the shipwreck off the Calabrian coast, near Crotone,” Pope Francis said after his Angelus Feb. 26. “I pray for each one of them, for the missing and for the other surviving migrants. I thank those who have brought relief and those who are providing shelter. May Our Lady sustain these brothers and sisters of ours.”

Rescue workers said passengers on the shipwrecked boat included people from Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

More tragedy struck this region of the Mediterranean when just before midnight March 1 a passenger train carrying 350 people collided with a freight train “after both ended up on the same track” near the city of Larissa in northern Greece, the BBC reported.

By midday March 2, at least 57 people were confirmed dead in what is being called the country’s worst rail crash. Rescue workers continued to search for survivors in the mangled, burned-out wreckage of the two trains.

According to the BBC, a 59-year-old station master in Larissa has been charged with “manslaughter by negligence” and was to appear in court March 2. “He has denied any wrongdoing, blaming the crash on a technical fault.”

Rail workers across Greece staged a walkout and held a one-day strike following the crash. The BBC quoted a statement from the workers’ union: “Pain has turned into anger for the dozens of dead and wounded colleagues and fellow citizens.”

Author: OSV News

OSV News is a national and international wire service reporting on Catholic issues and issues that affect Catholics.

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