Migrants disembark from the Norwegian ship Siem Pilot at Catania harbor, Italy, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015
Carmelo Imbesi—AP
August 17, 2015 11:27 PM EDT

The Sicilian city of Catania canceled its annual fireworks show after the bodies of 49 migrants were discovered inside the hold of a fishing boat. They had apparently died of fume inhalation.

An additional 300 passengers were also rescued from the fishing boat as part of a larger rescue operation by the Italian navy and were transferred to the Norwegian container ship the Siem Pilot, which was helping with the operation, the Associated Press reports.

Along with the 313 people rescued from the fishing boat and the 49 bodies, the Siem Pilot was also carrying 103 migrants from a separate rescue by a German ship, AFP reports.

Deputy Mayor of Catania Marco Consoli told the AP on Monday that the show would be canceled out of respect for the dead and that a white balloon would be released for each of the victims instead.

More than 2,300 migrants have died at sea so far this year as they sought to escape violence or persecution. More than 100,000 migrants have been rescued and brought to Italy this year, the AP reports.


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