At least 74 migrants died after their Europe-bound ship capsized off the coast of Libya on Thursday.
According to the UN migration agency (IOM), that boat was reported to be carrying more than 120 people, including women and children. Forty-seven survivors had been brought to shore by the coastguard and fishermen, while the bodies of at least 74 people were floating near the water's edge on Thursday.
In the latest in a series of at least eight shipwrecks in the Central Mediterranean since last month, according to the UN's migration agency, reported The Guardian.
A few hours after the bodies were reported, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) helped three women who were the only survivors of another shipwreck, which killed 20 people off the coast of Sorman, in Libya.
"Rescued by local fishermen, they were in shock and terrified," MSF wrote on Twitter. "They saw loved ones disappear beneath the waves, dying in front of their eyes."
Taking advantage of good mid-autumn weather, people smugglers have sent hundreds of migrants to sea in the last week, according to charities. The majority of the journeys have ended in tragedy.
On Wednesday, six people died after the dinghy in which they were travelling with more than 100 migrants capsized off Libya's coast. A six-month-old boy was among the victims.
The Spanish non-governmental organisation Open Arms wrote on Twitter: "Despite the enormous commitment of our medical team, a six-month-old baby has just died. We requested an urgent evacuation for him and other people in serious conditions, but he didn't make it. How much pain and sorrow!"
In 2020 alone, "over 10,300 migrants have been intercepted at sea and sent back to dangerous Libya", Di Giacomo said.
According to IOM figures, since the beginning of October, at least 30 migrants have died at sea while trying to reach Italy.
Since the beginning of 2020, about 575 people have died in the central Mediterranean, but the real number is estimated to be considerably higher, according to IOM.
Open Arms is currently the only NGO rescue boat operating in the central Mediterranean. Many other rescue boats are blocked in Italian ports because officials refuse to authorise their departure.
"Is the European Union watching?" MSF wrote on Twitter. "Step the search and rescue capacity up, or let us save lives."