Italian coast guard rescues nearly 1,400 refugees and migrants from boats in southern Mediterranean.
Italian coast guard and navy vessels rescued nearly 1,400 refugees and migrants from boats and rubber dinghies in the southern Mediterranean on Tuesday, officials said, indicating numbers were rising as the weather warms up.
About 570 refugees and migrants were rescued by the navy and about 780 by the coast guard, according to Tweets from both branches of the military.
Also on Tuesday, some 730 refugees who had been rescued in various operations in previous days and transferred to a larger ship arrived in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo.
Most of the refugees and migrants were from African countries and were believed to have left from Libya, which is widely lawless due to the political crisis that gripped the country after the death of former strongman leader Muammar Ghaddafi.
Officials fear the numbers will increase as sailing conditions improve with warmer weather.
More than 1.2 million Arab, African and Asian refugees and migrants have streamed into the European Union since the start of last year.
Most of them fled from the war in Syria and travelled to Europe via Greece by a short sea journey from neighbouring Turkey.