More than 60,000 people have disappeared in Mexico since the start of the country’s war on drugs in 2006, according to authorities.

The number is far higher than previous estimates of around 40,000, the BBC quoted the authorities as saying on Monday.

Around 53 per cent of those who disappeared were between the ages of 15 and 35, and 74 per cent were men.

Last year, more than 5,000 people disappeared, said Karla Quintana, the head of Mexico’s National Search Commission, at a news conference on Monday.

“These are data of horror, and behind them are stories of great pain for families,” she added.

In 2006, then-President Felipe Calderon had started a military crackdown on the drugs trade.

Besides the missing persons, more than 31,000 people were murdered in the country last year alone.

While drug cartels and organised crime groups are the main perpetrators, security forces are also blamed for deaths and disappearances.