As many as 60 people are feared to have drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy or Malta, the operators of a charity rescue group said on Thursday.

According to Reuters, SOS Mediterranee said that it rescued 25 people in a “very weak” condition in coordination with the Italian Coast Guard on Wednesday. Two unconscious people were flown to Sicily by helicopter.

The central Mediterranean is one of the world’s deadliest migration routes. According to the UN migration agency (IOM), almost 2,500 migrants died or went missing attempting the crossing last year, and the number since the start of 2024 already stands at 226.

“The survivors departed from Zawiya, Libya, seven days before they were rescued,” said SOS Mediterranee on X. “Their engine broke after three days, leaving their boat lost [and] adrift without water and food for days. Survivors report that at least 60 people perished on the way, including women and at least one child.”

There was no immediate comment from the Italian Coastguard. The IOM, however, said that it was “deeply troubled” by the report. “Urgent action is needed to strengthen maritime patrols and prevent further tragedies,” the UN agency said on X.

SOS Mediterranee added that its Ocean Viking rescue vessel had evacuated 25 people who were on a rubber boat drifting in the Libyan search and rescue area. The charity said that it picked up a further 113 people, including two children, from a wooden boat and 88 from a packed rubber dingy, in rescue operations on Wednesday and Thursday.

It is not clear if any Sierra Leonean is among the rescued or dead individuals.