Some 1,400 migrants and refugees were rescued in the last 24 hours in the central Mediterranean Sea, the Italian coast guard said on Tuesday.
At least two bodies were also found during the rescue operations, which involved two vessels from Italy’s coast guard and finance police, a ship from the European Union (EU) naval mission EUNAVFOR MED and some non-profit groups.
The rescued people were sailing on board of seven inflatable rubber boats, one barge, and three smaller crafts, the coast guard said in a statement, Xinhua news agency reported.
Overall, 11 missions were needed to find and bring to safety the migrants. It was not immediately clear to which ports in southern Italy they would be brought.
Since last year, and especially after a controversial agreement with Libyan authorities and militias, Italy has witnessed a sharp decrease in the number of arrivals by sea.
From Jan. 1 to Jan. 16, some 974 migrants and refugees reached the Italian coasts, compared to 2,393 registered in the same period of 2017, according to latest statistics by the interior ministry.
Overall, Italy received 119,247 migrants and refugees last year, and over 181,400 in 2016, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.