Some 4,500 migrants were rescued from rubber dinghies and a wooden boat in the Mediterranean on Tuesday, Italy’s coast guard said, as the sea calmed after a rough weekend.
More than 67,000 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea so far this year, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said before the coast guard reported the latest rescues.
Arrivals are down from the same period of 2015, but the number of deaths on the perilous route has jumped. Ten women were found dead in the bottom of a rubber boat last week.
The coast guard said it had coordinated more than 30 rescue operations, which were carried out by its own ship Diciotti, Italian navy ships, and vessels working for EU border agency Frontex and humanitarian organisations.
Giving its latest estimate on Tuesday for the number of people who have crossed the Mediterranean this year, the IOM said most of the boats set off from Libya, followed by Egypt.
Meanwhile, Germany has broken up a ring of human traffickers who smuggled mainly Syrian migrants into the country via Hungary and Austria for a charge of up to 1,500 euros ($1,671.00) each, federal police said on Tuesday.
The main suspect, a 48-year-old German man, and six other people were arrested during raids in the northwestern city of Wuppertal, near Duesseldorf, and four other towns in western Germany. All face several years in prison.
Over 1 million migrants arrived in Germany last year, many of them Syrians who came via a Balkan corridor since blocked as countries along the way tightened border controls, making Germany much harder for them to reach.
The trafficking ring used mobile homes, minibuses and cars to smuggle migrants into Germany, a federal police statement said. Raiding police seized over 10,000 euros in cash as well as numerous mobile phones, SIM cards, laptops and hard discs.