Three thousand migrants were saved in the Strait of Sicily in 30 separate rescue missions, the Italian coastguard said, bringing the total to almost 10,000 in two days and marking a sharp acceleration in refugee arrivals in Italy.
The migrants were packed on board dozens of boats, many of them rubber dinghies that become dangerously unstable in high seas. No details were immediately available on their nationalities.
Data from the International Organization for Migration released on Friday said around 105,000 migrants had reached Italy by boat in 2016, many of them setting sail from Libya. An estimated 2,726 men, women and children have died over the same period trying to make the journey.
Favorable weather conditions this week have seen an increase in boats setting sail. About, 1,100 migrants were picked up on Sunday and 6,500 on Monday, in one of the largest influxes of refugees in a single day so far this year.
Italy has been on the front line of Europe’s migrant crisis for three years, and more than 400,000 have successfully made the voyage to Italy from North Africa since the beginning of 2014, fleeing violence and poverty.