Divers on Sunday resumed their search for victims in the sinking of a boat packed with Eritrean and Somali migrants last week off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, with 181 bodies having been recovered, including those of five children.

One hundred fifty-five people were rescued from the sinking vessel and authorities said that more than 400 may have been on board.

Recovery work amid the wreck of the boat, which rests on the seafloor at a depth of more than 40 meters (130 feet) half a nautical mile off the coast of Lampedusa, was able to be resumed thanks to an improvement in the weather and ocean conditions, the Italian Coast Guard said.

The tough work by Coast Guard and Italian Finance Ministry personnel, along with firefighters and Navy sailors began once again on Sunday morning with the recovery of another 70 bodies, including those of eight women and a child, in addition to the 111 bodies recovered earlier which are currently being kept in coffins in a hangar at the Lampedusa airport.

Due to the bad weather, over the past two days the only recovery work undertaken had been done by aircraft and helicopters that flew over the zone hoping to spot more bodies that might have floated to the surface from the submerged wreck.

Pope Francis prayed in silence for the victims of last Thursday's shipwreck on Sunday from the balcony of the Apostolic Palace along with a large group of the faithful gathered on St. Peter's Square at The Vatican.

The migrants were trying to get to Europe but their boat's engine broke down. They set off flares to attract passing ships, but the flames ignited gasoline on the deck and started a fire.

The panicked migrants all moved to one side of the boat to get away from the blaze and that caused it to capsize. EFE