Italian authorities say ships from the coast guard, navy, and several cargo vessels rescued more than a thousand migrants from North Africa and the Mideast from the dangerous Mediterranean over the past two days.
Officials said Wednesday one rubber boat carrying migrants overturned, drowning 10 people Tuesday, but more than 1,000 were rescued from seven other small boats and taken to Italian ports.
The men, women, and children claimed to be from Syria, Libya, Tunisia, the Palestinian territories, and sub-Saharan Africa. They are apparently seeking to escape violence or poverty for a better life in the European Union.
Nearly 8,000 migrants have reached Italian shores in the first two months of the year - far outpacing last year's total for January and February.
The Italian government has made constant appeals to the European Union for more help.
Some right-wing Italians say Rome and the EU have blood on their hands, arguing that rescues at sea are an incentive for the migrants to make the dangerous crossing.
But an Italian Coast Guard commander tells The Associated Press that Italy cannot turn its back on people in danger.