(Rome) Three migrants are missing and presumed drowned after the sinking of their boat in the Mediterranean which had nearly 40 people on board who could be saved, the German NGO ResQship said on Saturday.

Tunisian fishermen were the first to arrive at the sinking site on Friday evening, a spokeswoman for the NGO told AFP. When the NGO ResQship’s Nadir boat arrived, “the fishermen had already taken 38 people out of the water. They told us three people were missing,” she added.

The shipwreck occurred southeast of the Italian island of Lampedusa. The boat came from the Tunisian city of Sfax.

The survivors were taken by the Italian coast guard to Lampedusa, overwhelmed for weeks by massive influxes of migrants, according to the NGO.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 42,000 people have arrived on Italian shores, four times more than last year for the same period, according to figures from the Italian Ministry of the Interior.

The period between January and March was the deadliest since 2017 according to the UN, which recorded 441 migrant deaths.