Italy rescues more migrants off the Libyan coast

August 31, 2016 9:45 AM EDT

Migrants wait to disembark from the Italian Navy vessel Sfinge in the Sicilian harbour of Pozzallo, southern Italy, August 31, 2016. REUTERS/ Antonio Parrinello

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Hundreds of migrants disembarked at the Sicilian port of Pozzallo on Wednesday (August 31) after being rescued at sea in a day that notched up the greatest number of rescue operations this year.

Some 6,500 migrants were saved off the Libyan coast in 40 separate rescue missions on Monday (August 29), in one of the largest influxes of refugees in a single day.

The migrants were packed on board scores of boats, many of them flimsy rubber dinghies that become dangerously unstable in high seas. Most were believed to be Africans.

Data from the International Organization for Migration said around 105,000 migrants had reached Italy by boat so far in 2016, many of them setting sail from Libya.

An estimated 2,726 men, women and children have died over the same period trying to make the journey.

Italy has been on the front line of Europe's migrant crisis for three years, and more than 400,000 have successfully made the voyage to Italy from North Africa since the beginning of 2014, fleeing violence and poverty.

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