On Thursday, hundreds of refugees fleeing Libya were rescued by the Italian coast guard from a stranded boat some 90 miles off the coast of the island of Lampedusa. According to survivors, dozens of other refugees died on the boat, and their bodies were thrown into the sea. Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini has called for an investigation into reports that a NATO ship in the area failed to respond to an SOS to help the refugees on the stranded vessel.
The incident was noted by American news organizations, but in such a way as to minimize or cast doubt on its gravity. Thus, for instance, the Associated Press wrote, “Italian media, without citing sources, said some migrants told their Italian rescuers that the bodies of those who died were tossed overboard by survivors.” But the source for an initial report in Il Corriere della Sera, Italy’s most widely read and influential daily, is clearly indicated to be the survivors themselves. In particular, the report refers to the testimony of four Moroccans who were rescued from the ship:
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