Earlier this year, the European Union struck an agreement with Turkey to curb the flow of migrants sailing for Greece in exchange for aid and political concessions.
The deal meant those who arrived in Greece were sent back to Turkey if their asylum claim was rejected, and was expected to prevent migrants from even attempting to make the risky crossing by boat.
But it seems the tactic has failed as Italy has continued to take the brunt of new arrivals since the deal was implemented in March.
Records from the interior ministry have revealed a total of 171,299 migrants have arrived in the country by boat this year alone, compared to the previous record of 170,100 for the whole of 2014.
The number of arrivals is roughly the size of the population of York in Britain – or Modena in Italy.
And it seems North Africans are the most likely to risk the deadly crossing.
Official figures reveal the majority of the migrants – 21 per cent of 36,000 – who have come to Italy this year are from Nigeria, along with 20,000 Eritreans and 12,000 people from Guinea.
In the past three years, Italy has recorded nearly half a million migrant arrivals – many of which fleeing war, poverty or political oppression.
Now more than 176,000 asylum seekers live in shelters in Italy alone, putting the country”s asylum process and legal system under increasing pressure.
But experts warned the influx is not going to stop any time soon.
As of the end of October, almost 23,000 unaccompanied minors – mostly teenage boys – had arrived, compared with 13,000 during the whole of 2014.
And just yesterday, some 1,400 immigrants were rescued from dangerous rubber and wooden boats as they tried to cross the central Mediterranean to reach safety in Europe.
The latest victims will add to a total of 4,655 migrants confirmed to have died or disappeared in the Mediterranean so far this year.
Frontex, the European border agency, claims the spike in arrivals down to better weather, saying: “People smugglers crammed even more migrants onto unseaworthy boats before the winter weather sets in, leading to a very high number of deaths.”
The Migrant Offshore Aid Station also warned the death toll is likely to be much higher, as boats may be sinking without being reported.
New arrivals normally drop during the stormy winter months, but rescuers are concerned this year that there will not be enough vessels to go to their aid.
In 2015, Greece saw more than 856,000 refugee and migrant arrivals – but that has significantly dropped this year in part because of the Turkey migrant deal.
The Western Balkan routes to Europe have also seen a drop in numbers, with the amount of people crossing the route recorded at one per cent lower than in October 2015.
However many has savaged Turkey for failing the deal, and not doing as much as it could to try and stem immigration.
The news comes as Turkish President Recep Erdogan warned he will “open the gates” and let thousands of migrants flood Europe if the EU freezes talks on membership.