Aug. 16 (UPI) -- More than 500 migrants have died so far this year in the Americas -- nearly half of whom in their attempt to enter the United States, the United Nations migration agency said Friday.
The International Organization for Migration put the total figure at 514 in its Migration's Missing Migrants Project -- nearly a third more than the recorded deaths by this time last year.
The IOM said deaths reached the 500-mark earlier this year than any other of the last six. The 500th death wasn't recorded last year until October. The leading cause of death was drowning.
"The turmoil in Venezuela - - where over four million migrants have left the country since 2015 - - may account for much of 2019's surge in recorded fatalities," the IOM said.
The analysis said about half of the migrant deaths occurred at the U.S.-Mexico border. The rest were seen further south, in Central America, Caribbean islands and South America.
The IOM said globally, 43,500 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea so far this year, a 31 percent decrease from 63,000 last August.