The International Organization for Migration says deaths on the Mediterranean Sea in 2016 are set to top 3,000 in coming days, the third straight year that level has been reached and the earliest in a single year.

The organization says 2,977 migrants and refugees have died trying to cross the sea this year, and another two dozen corpses are believed to be on boats now heading toward Italian shores Friday.

IOM spokesman Joel Millman says the 3,000 mark of Mediterranean deaths was reached in September 2014 and in October last year.

Nearly all the deaths this year occurred on the treacherous route between Libya and Italy. Millman said flows of migrants on the safer, shorter route between Turkey and Greece "have almost disappeared."