Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Migrant death ship to be shown at Venice art fair

Migrant death ship to be shown at Venice art fair

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The fishing vessel Barca Nostra (Our Boat) that sank on April 18, 2015 trapping hundreds of migrants in its hull, is being installed in Venice’s former shipyards as part of the centrepiece of a new art project. AFP

Migrant death ship to be shown at Venice art fair

THE remains of the worst known Mediterranean migrant shipwreck, in which up to 900 people died, will be exhibited at the prestigious Venice Biennale art fair this week.

The blue and red fishing boat was carrying almost 1,000 migrants when it struck a Portuguese cargo ship that was coming to its aid off the coast of Libya during the night of April 18-19, 2015.

The boat sank quickly as the cargo ship’s horrified crew raced to save 28 people.

Swiss artist Christoph Buchel obtained permission from Italian authorities and a group that represents the victims to transport the hull to Venice as part of a project called “Barca Nostra” (Our Boat). It will be shown in a shipyard by itself, without any explanation.

“It is a quiet site, sheltered from noise, an invitation to silence and meditation,” said Paolo Baratta, the head of the Venice Biennale which opens on Saturday.

Italy spent around €10 million ($12 million) to raise the wreck from a depth of 370m (1,200ft) and transport it to Sicily so the victims could be identified and given a proper burial.

A large rectangular opening was cut in the hull to allow workers to recover hundreds of bodies, with dozens of medical examiners called in to examine the remains of 800-900 people.

Travel documents from Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal, Somalia and Sudan, were found, along with small packets of earth from some migrants’ homelands and a school report that a teenager had sewn into their clothes.

“It seems we are looking at the worst massacre ever seen in the Mediterranean,” UNHCR spokeswoman Carlotta Sami said at the time.

The disaster provoked an emergency EU summit as Europe tried to control a migrant crisis that has presented the union with one of its biggest challenges ever.

The victims now lie in various Sicilian cemetaries, and it was decided to not destroy the boat but integrate it into a Sicilian “memory garden”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Sihanoukville to begin road project

    The government will spend $200 million to improve Sihanoukville’s infrastructure. The eight-month project will involve the rebuilding of 34 streets with a total of more than 84km. Pal Chandara, the secretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, told The Post

  • Artefact is seized from American auctioneers

    Cambodian and US archaeologists on Thursday discussed the formalities and procedures of returning to Cambodia an artefact which was recently seized by US Homeland Security Investigators (HSI) from an auction house in San Francisco. On Monday, the HSI said US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),

  • Bodhisattva statue unearthed

    The Apsara National Authority technical team uncovered a sandstone statue of a Bodhisattva while carrying out excavation work at the east entrance of the Ta Nei temple on October 8. The team was trying to find the temple’s roof stone, which had fallen into a

  • More charges as Rainsy allies warned against backing plot

    More than 20 people have been either arrested or charged with “plotting” since Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), announced his return to the Kingdom next month. The majority of the arrests have come after September 20, when the