This year, more migrants dead or lost in the Mediterranean than in 2015
At least 239 people are missing from two shipwrecks off the coast of Libya in recent days, the United Nations migration agency said Thursday.
Final numbers have not been confirmed as representatives from the U.N. International Organization on Migration work to gain more details from survivors.
So far this year, the latest tragedy brings the total to 4,220 migrants who have died or gone missing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean to. Last year, 3,771 people died trying to make the journey.
Survivors from the latest wrecks told the UN that two rubber dinghies traveling from Libya capsized off the island of Lampedusa in southern Italy, according to the Associated Press.
Flavio Di Giacomo, an IOM spokesman, said on Twitter at least 18 women and six children were among the victims.
The Associated Press reports the IOM has recovered 12 bodies so far, but it is unlikely all the bodies will be found.
The journey from Libya to Italy is particularly dangerous for migrants, and smugglers often overcrowd small rubber boats that easily capsize on the open waters.
The U.N. refugee agency said last month that those factors, combined with bad weather, has led to an increase in migrant deaths in recent months, even as the total number of people crossing the Mediterranean declined.