Italy’s southern city of Salerno held a mass funeral on Friday for 26 young women from Nigeria who drowned earlier this month trying to cross the Mediterranean.
Twenty-six coffins were laid out in Salerno’s Monumental Cemetery on Friday morning, watched by a military guard, local politicians, rescue workers and journalists. A Catholic archbishop and a Muslim imam both said prayers.
Each coffin bore a white rose on top, though only two were marked with names: Marian Shaka and Osato Osaro. The bodies will be buried in different cemeteries around Salerno.
A wreath of flowers is seen next to the coffins of 26 teenage migrant girls found dead in the Mediterranean in early November, in the cemetery of Salerno, southern Italy, before a funeral service on November 17, 2017. The bodies of the victims were found floating in the water by a Spanish military ship and brought to Italy on November 3 after two separate rescue operations. / AFP PHOTO / Eliano IMPERATO
The city’s mayor declared Friday a day of mourning. Local schools have been asked to hold a minute of silence, while light displays in the city centre will be switched off on Friday evening in remembrance.
The girls’ bodies were recovered at sea and brought to Italy on November 3rd. Post-mortem examinations revealed that 25 of the victims had drowned, while one had a wound to her side.
All of the girls are believed to have been Nigerian nationals between 14 and 30 years old. Five have been identified so far. Two of them were pregnant, including Osaro with twins. Her coffin bore a pink and a blue rose in their memory. At least 100 other people believed to have been travelling with the women are still missing, all feared drowned.
Nigeria has called for an international investigation into the incident.