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More bodies pulled from sunken boat

Divers have found 17 more bodies from the people smugglers' boat that sank in the Mediterranean with hundreds of migrants on board.

The confirmed death toll from Thursday's tragedy is now 211 but may climb. Bad weather off the Italian island of Lampedusa again halted the recovery operation.

Only 155 people of the estimated 500 on board survived the sinking. Scores of bodies are believed to be still trapped in the hull of the boat, which is 150 feet down.

Divers entered the hull the hull for the first time. Coast Guard Capt. Filippo Marini said: "Bodies have been recovered from outside the ship and from the ship's cabin. Now we have to get inside the hold."

Diver Riccardo Nobile, who did multiple dives on Sunday when 83 bodies were found, said the work inside the boat is much more complicated. Divers can only stay submerged for seven to 10 minutes, depending on the conditions.

"I found myself for more than an hour among these corpses. It was difficult to look straight at their faces, to see their wounds, see their tormented expressions, their outstretched arms," said Mr Nobile, who also spent stretches on a boat while other diving teams worked. "It was extremely difficult. But this is our job."

The ship had arrived within sight of Lampedusa, a tiny island that is Italy's southernmost point, after two days of sailing from Libya. The capsising tossed hundreds of people into the sea, many of whom could not swim.

Tens of thousands of migrants from African and the Middle East try to cross the Mediterranean Sea each year, seeking a better life in Europe. Hundreds die in the process.

-AP

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