Portopalo di Capo Passero
Portopalo di Capo Passero (Sicilian: Puortupalu) is a comune
In Italy, the comune is the basic administrative division, and may be properly approximated in casual speech by the English word township or municipality.-Importance and function:...

(municipality) in the Province of Syracuse
Province of Syracuse
The Province of Syracuse is a province in the autonomous island region of Sicily in Italy. Its capital is the city of Syracuse.It has an area of 2,109 km², and a total population of 396,167 ....

, Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

). It's located about 220 km southeast of Palermo
Palermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...

 and about 45 km southwest of Syracuse. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 3,617 and an area of 14.9 km².

Portopalo di Capo Passero borders the following municipalities: Pachino
Pachino is a town and comune in the Province of Syracuse, Sicily . The name derives from the Phoenician word pachum which means guardia in Italian ; an alternative origin is the Greek word paxum translating into fertile...



The sea off Portopalo was the scene of the worst shipping disaster to hit the Mediterranean since the Second World War. In the early hours of December 26, 1996, a fishing vessel carrying more than 300 South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

n migrants sank off the coast of Sicily and 283 of them drowned.

The catastrophe happened when the Yohan a merchant ship carrying the migrants from Greece approached the Sicilian Coast and nearly three hundred people were transferred from the freighter to a fishing boat that measured eighteen metres by four. During the operation the two vessels collided and the fishing vessel sank

Some of their bodies remain trapped in the ship’s wreck, 108 metres below the surface. For most of the following years the disaster was considered nothing more than a ghost story. Harbor officials and Fishermen from the port of Portopalo kept silent and the Italian government denied the tragedy ever took place, and refused to accept the testimonies of survivors.

Salvatore Lupo, a local Fisherman began speaking out about the accident in 2001, after he found one of the victims’ identification cards in his fishing net. He then helped a journalist, Giovanni Mario Bellu, working for La Repubblica
La Repubblica
la Repubblica is an Italian daily general-interest newspaper. Founded in 1976 in Rome by the journalist Eugenio Scalfari, as of 2008 is the second largest circulation newspaper, behind the Corriere della Sera.-Foundation:...

locate the wreck with an underwater robot equipped with cameras.
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