Around 60 migrants are presumed dead after their boat engine caught fire off the Libyan coast, reported non-governmental organisation Alarm Phone on Tuesday.
The organisation added that on the night of 17 March, amid stormy weather, a grey wooden boat carrying more than 100 people contacted Alarm Phone. The voices of panicking people were heard on the phone as their boat was ravaged by fire, prompting the organisation to alert the relevant authorities.
Ocean Viking began a search operation, but they were unable to determine the location of the boat.
Survivors reported Sudanese, Senegalese, Syrians, Pakistanis, Moroccans and Egyptians onboard the ship, noting that Libyan fishermen rescued about 45 people.
Refugees from many countries, mainly Tunisia and Libya, are crossing to Europe via Italy, which has the closest coastline to the region.
A total of 1,200 migrants lost their lives in the Mediterranean in 2020, the majority of whom were trying to reach Europe via this route, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).