Share story

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has expressed sorrow over the lost lives of 170 migrants who drowned in recent days in the Mediterranean Sea.

The U.N. refugee agency has said 117 migrants died or were missing after a smuggler’s dinghy sank off Libya Jan. 18, and that 53 others died in the capsizing of another migrant boat in the western Mediterranean a few days earlier.

In remarks in St. Peter’s Square Sunday, Francis said those who drowned had looked for better lives and were “victims, perhaps, of human traffickers.”

The pope said: “Let us pray for them and for those who have the responsibility for what happened.”

Two Mediterranean nations, Italy and Malta, have cracked down on private groups whose boats aim to rescue migrants from traffickers’ unseaworthy boats.