The Italian navy said on Monday it had rescued more than 2 000 migrants at the weekend from boats in the Mediterranean, bringing the number it has brought ashore this year to nearly 100 000.
It said the latest arrivals included 94 migrants crammed into a 30-metre long sailing boat intercepted off the coast of Calabria by the coast guard, which arrested three Turkish men on board on suspicion of human trafficking.
Another 2 700 migrants were rescued last weekend, and the boats continue to come as traffickers take advantage of calm summer seas.
Most of the migrants making the risky and often deadly journeys come from Eritrea, Somalia and Syria, but there are also many arriving from across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
They are picked up as part of Italy's “Mare Nostrum” operation, a large-scale naval deployment that was launched after twin shipwrecks in October left more than 400 migrants dead.
Close to 100 000 migrants have now landed in Italy so far this year - far higher than the previous record of about 60 000 arriving in 2011 at the height of the turmoil triggered by the Arab Spring revolutions.
Figures released at the end of July showed about 93 000 migrants had been rescued since the start of 2014. - Sapa-AFP