May 9 (UPI) -- Cécile Pouilly, spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said nearly 250 people are feared dead or missing after two migrant shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea.
The first shipwreck occurred Friday night when a rubber dinghy sank after it sailed for several hours with 132 people on board. Authorities rescued some 50 people, who disembarked in Sicily, Italy, on Sunday, but some 82 people are feared dead or missing.
The second shipwreck occurred off the coast of Libya on Sunday. The Libyan Coast Guards rescued a woman and six men but some 163 people are feared dead or missing.
"This brings the total number of people believed to have died or disappeared while trying to cross from North Africa to Italy to more than 1,300 since the beginning of the year," Pouilly said during a press briefing in Geneva. "So far in 2017, over 43,000 migrants and asylum seekers have used the Central Mediterranean route to reach Italy."
The UNHCR urged the international community to support rescue at sea operations and to address the root causes that leads to dangerous migration.