More than two hundred migrants are feared dead in a boat sinking off the coast of Libya.
A Spanish aid Organisation, Proactiva Open Arms said it had recovered five bodies floating near two capsized boats, which can each hold more than one hundred people.
The group’s Laura Lanuza said the five they pulled from the Mediterranean were young men who appeared to have drowned.
A spokesman for Italy’s coast guard, which co-ordinates rescues, confirmed the five deaths.
Ms Lanuza said at least two hundred and forty migrants may have died as the boats were often overloaded by smugglers.
Numbers of migrants trying to reach Europe from Libya via Italy have risen dramatically this year since the route between Turkey and Greece was effectively shut down.
The Italian coast guard said they had co-ordinated more than forty rescue operations in the last few days.
The International Organization for Migration says more than 20,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year and some 559 people are estimated to have died or gone missing en route.
This compares with fewer than 19,000 arrivals in Italy and about 350 deaths in the first three months of 2016.