ROME, ITALY - Rescuers pulled almost 2,000 migrants from 11 boats that were attempting to cross the Mediterranean and reach Italy, the Italian coastguard said on Thursday.

It was the largest number of migrants reported saved en route to Italy in more than a month.

The flow of migrants heading to Italy has slowed sharply in recent weeks, partly because of poor weather. Many come from sub-Saharan Africa and set sail from Libya in rickety boats provided by people smugglers.

More than 140,000 migrants have reached Italy this year out of a total of almost 900,000 who have arrived in Europe, most of them entering via Greece.

The Italian, British and Spanish navies took part in the 11 separate rescue operations on Thursday, as well as a ship operated by the non-governmental organization Doctors Without Borders, the coastguards said.