Updated on April 22, 2015
The Seventh-day Adventist Church joined people across Europe and the world in grieving Monday for hundreds of migrants feared drowned in a weekend boat disaster in the Mediterranean Sea.
Only 28 of the estimated 800 migrants aboard the ship have been rescued since it capsized off Libya on Sunday, April 19. The 20-meter vessel sank 70 miles (110 kilometers) from Libya, south of the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, as a large merchant ship approached it, Italian authorities said.
"We are deeply moved by this latest tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea,” said Andreas Mazza, spokesman for the Inter-European Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“It is striking to see the pain and suffering wrought by this disaster, which touches some of the world's most vulnerable people — people who are searching for a better life, people who are claiming back their dignity as human beings,” he said in a statement.
A growing migrant boat crisis has killed 1,600 people since January, prompting European Union leaders to hold talks on what to do next. About 3,500 boat migrants seeking to escape conflict and poverty in Africa died in all of 2014.
“There are issues of prevention we cannot walk away from. We cannot ignore the huge humanitarian crisis in northern Africa,” Mazza said.
He said Adventists felt the pain of Sunday’s tragedy, and he offered his condolences.
“The Bible says that we are all of one spirit, and that ‘if one part suffers, every part suffers with it,’” he said, referring to 1 Corinthians 12:26. “That is the reason why we suffer and mourn all together, today. May the Lord bless all relatives and friends of the victims with comfort and peace.”