Migrants — desperate to leave their home countries for better lives in western Europe, and willing to risk the dangerous crossing in tightly packed, leaking smugglers' ships — are dying in startling numbers in the Mediterranean.

The mortality rate this year is far higher than in 2014, which was much higher than in 2013. In fact, this year's death toll could top 30,000, according to the International Organization for Migration.

In the latest tragedy, more than 800 are believed to have drowned in a weekend sinking, making it the deadliest such disaster in the region.

Here is a collection of images from recent days illustrating the crisis.