Italy’s coast guard reported on Wednesday that more than 2,400 refugees have been rescued in last two days in the strait of Siciliy, but three dead bodies have also been found by search and rescue teams.
European Union leaders are trying to stem a flow of refugees that brought more than a million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond to the EU since early 2015.
More than four million Syrians have fled the war-torn country since the conflict in the country erupted and more than six million are displaced within its borders.
Italian coast guard and navy ships and a Norwegian vessel operating for the European Union border agency Frontex rescued 1,467 people in 12 operations on Wednesday, the coast guard said in a statement, Reuters reported.
Italian officials did not give any details about the nationalities of the victims or those rescued.
Italy and Greece are on the frontline of Europe’s biggest immigration crisis since World War Two as hundreds of overcrowded and unsafe boats loaded with refugees from North Africa and Turkey reach their shores.
The sea route to Italy from Africa is particularly perilous. Of the more than 3,700 refugee deaths in the Mediterranean in 2015, some 2,000 occurred on the way to Italy from North Africa.