More than 200 migrants are believed drowned off the coast of Libya, according to migration officials. Survivors who managed to reach the Italian island of Lampuseda, broke the news to the UN refugee agency, said spokeswoman Carlotta Samil.
Those rescued said the rubber dinghies they were travelling in capsized in stormy seas after departing Libya.
Around 29 people had survived but it's believed 120 people are missing, stated the UNHCR spokeswoman. So far, 12 bodies have been recovered from around 25 miles off the coast of Libya, according to Fox News.
In a separate incident, two women found swimming in the ocean told their rescuers that 120 people had died when their boat had flipped over.
"Many women, pregnant women and children were on board, and they were in the water for hours," said Sami. So far, no bodies have been found in the sea. When boats sink in deep water, it is often difficult to recover any bodies.
Most of the people rescued in both incidents are believed to be sub-Saharan Africans, although Sami said further information was still be collected by aid workers.
Around 4,220 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean this year, said Leonard Doyle, chief spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). This is the highest yearly death toll on record.
Italy has seen an increase in people smuggling from Libya since an agreement in March between Turkey and the EU has stopped migrants travelling to the Greek islands.
Smugglers using rubber dinghies which are liable to deflate and capsize are part of the reason for the increase in the number of deaths. According to the UNHCR more migrants are also suffering from severe burns due to fuel mixing with sea water and collecting at the bottom of the rubber boats.
People traffickers are coercing migrants to make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean by telling them that Europe will hand over the rescue mission to Tunisian and Libyan coastguards.
Itayi Viriri, spokesman for the IOM told The Voice of America: "The smugglers are certainly using that as a ploy to make sure that people who normally would not consider getting on to a boat at this time of year when the seas are really choppy and rough—that they reconsider because as the smugglers are telling them, they will not get the opportunity in the near future when first of all the Libyan and Tunisian coast guards clamp down on boats being launched off their shores," said Viriri.