Bodies of 18 migrants arrive in France

4th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

MARSEILLE, France, June 4, 2007 (AFP) - A French navy ship carrying the bodies of 18 migrants found floating at sea off the coast of Malta arrived at a naval base in southern France on Sunday.

MARSEILLE, France, June 4, 2007 (AFP) - A French navy ship carrying the bodies of 18 migrants found floating at sea off the coast of Malta arrived at a naval base in southern France on Sunday.

The 14 men including two teenagers and four women recovered on Friday by the crew of the La Motte-Picquet ship were probably from Africa based on the messages scribbled on bits of paper found on their bodies, said Captain Michel Trehard.

Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux welcomed the crew of the ship at the Toulon naval base and pledged to wage an "unyeilding battle" against traffickers who "exploit the misery of these migrants."

Trehard told AFP that the crew had worked until nightfall Friday to recover the bodies and that he was unsure whether more migrants may have been left floating in the sea.

The bodies were found some 100 nautical miles south of Malta within a radius of about 10 kilometres.

"Their faces were very damaged," said Trehard, adding that they may have been floating in the water for a long period of time.

A coroner's inquest was to take place to identify the bodies and notify the families, police spokesman Emmanuel Dinh said. They will then be buried in the Toulon cemetery.

Police have opened an investigation into the cause of the deaths.

Every year thousands of immigrants attempt to make it to Europe across the Mediterranean from northern Africa, often undertaking dangerous journeys in unsuitable craft.


Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

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