GENEVA, Switzerland, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- The United Nations on Wednesday said the death toll of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean so far in 2016 has surpassed last year's total with about two months left.
On Tuesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had said 3,740 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean so far in 2016, compared to 3,771 in 2015.
On Wednesday, UNHCR spokesman William Spindler updated those numbers, saying 2016 is now the deadliest year following an incident in the Mediterranean.
"We're receiving more reports of deaths," Spindler wrote on Twitter. "We can now confirm that at least 3,800 people have died, making 2016 the deadliest ever."
Last year, about 1,015,000 people crossed the Mediterranean to Europe. This year, about 327,800 made the crossing.
The United Nations said there are several explanations for the increase in migrant deaths this year when when there were fewer people attempting to cross.
They include more migrants attempting to travel from North Africa to Italy, which is a more dangerous route, and that smugglers are attempting take thousands of people at a time in perilous conditions.
"People smugglers are today often using lower-quality vessels -- flimsy inflatable rafts that often do not last the journey. Several incidents seem to be connected with travel during bad weather," Spindler said while in Geneva. "This may be to do with the shifting smuggler business model or geared towards lowering detection risks, but it also makes the work of rescuers harder."
A migrant crisis escalated throughout 2015 as people fled conflict and poverty in Syria, and also Afghanistan, Eritrea and Iraq. Migrants have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean Sea and also by land through Turkey and Greece.