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Migrants wait in Italy as Pope urges strong response in wake of Libya boat disaster

4:05pm EDT - 01:38

North African migrants in Italy hope to continue their travels further into Europe, as Pope Frances calls for strong response after hundreds are feared dead in Libya boat disaster. Pavithra George reports.

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At a railway station in Palermo, Italy, young North African migrants wait to continue their travels further into Europe - eager to escape the conflicts back home. Some have just landed at this port city after risking their lives in a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, in overcrowded ships - much like the one that capsized off the Libyan coast overnight, killing as many as 700 migrants. Officials say it may be the Mediterranean's worst such disaster. Upon hearing the news, Eritrean migrant Ahmed described the crammed vessel that brought him to Italy. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ERITREAN MIGRANT, AHMED, SAYING: "It is not good. It is small . Also, it is a lot of people, 360 people in one ship. Now it is not good." At the Vatican, the Pope called the disaster overnight "a new tragedy" in the Mediterranean and reiterated his appeal for a stronger response from Europe to tackle the worsening crisis. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) POPE FRANCIS, SAYING: "Faced with such a tragedy, I express my most heartfelt pain and promise to remember the victims and their families in prayer. I make a heartfelt appeal to the international community to react decisively and quickly to see to it that such tragedies are not repeated." The Italian coast guard said it recovered 24 bodies and rescued 28 people on Sunday from the vessel, which sank 112 km off the Libyan coast. The disaster has prompted top officials in Europe to say urgent action was needed -- as thousands flee poverty and war to what they hope will be a better future.

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Migrants wait in Italy as Pope urges strong response in wake of Libya boat disaster

4:05pm EDT - 01:38