Italian authorities have launched a full on investigation into the cause of death of 26 teenage girls, whose bodies were found in the Mediterranean Sea Sunday.

The youthful girls aged 14-18, appear to have embarked on a harsh and taxing route to Europe from Libya over the weekend. Autopsies will be conducted on Tuesday and coroners will investigate whether the girls had been tortured or sexually abused.

Among the group, rescued by one of four separate rescue operations carried out in the Mediterranean, was 90 women and 52 minors.

Many residing in Libya are desperate to leave their home location. Many from sub-Saharan Africa are running from war and persecution. Since the start of 2017, 2,839 migrants have died on the central Mediterranean route. 150,982 migrants have reached European shores, namely 74% arrive on Italian territory. 

Prayers go out to those affected by this tragic finding.