Thousands of migrants rescued in calm Mediterranean
Italy's coastguard said it co-ordinated the rescue of some 4,400 migrants in a single day, a record-setting number, as smugglers took advantage of ideal sea conditions off Libya to launch a fleet of unseaworthy boats.
The coastguard said 22 rescue operations were carried out on Saturday for motorised rubber dinghies and fishing boats, all crammed with migrants.
Irish naval crews also rescued 225 people found in distress on two inflatable boats off Libya.
Italian coastguard, navy and border police boats pitched in, as did Norwegian and Irish naval vessels deployed in a European patrol-and-rescue force.
The Irish naval ship Le Niamh was sent to the scene, 69 miles north east of Tripoli, on Saturday night as part of a humanitarian mission.
So far this year, some 110,000 migrants have been rescued off Libya and brought to southern Italian ports.