More than 5800 migrants trying to reach Europe have been rescued in the Mediterranean Sea over the weekend.
The Italian coastguard reported on Sunday that a total of 16 ships had been involved in several different rescue operations by its coast guard and navy on Saturday.
The migrants were to be taken to the Italian region of Calabria as well as the islands of Sicily and Lampedusa, it said.
In a French operation, another 217 migrants in three rubber dinghies were rescued by a Marine patrol boat on Saturday and two suspected smugglers were detained in the seas north of Libya, the Maritime Prefecture in Toulon said.
It was the first rescue operation by France since an April 23 decision by European leaders to boost patrols after an estimated 800 migrants died last month when an overcrowded fishing boat capsized.
The news comes as authorities in Malta are struggling to identify 24 bodies brought to the Mediterranean island after an April 19 shipwreck off the coast of Libya.
The Mediterranean is considered the world’s most dangerous sea migration route.
A report in April from Amnesty International calculated that from January to March, one out of every 23 migrants who sailed off from North Africa had perished in the Mediterranean crossing.