More than 4,000 migrants on their way to Italy after being rescued

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Carmelo Imbesi/TT
13:13 CEST+02:00
The Italian coastguard has confirmed that a rescue operation involving Italian and French navy vessels have rescued more than 4,000 migrants off the coast of Libya

The migrants were rescued by Italian and French navy vessels in 17 separate operations.

More rescue operations were expected during the day as people smugglers took advantage of calm seas, Italy's coastguard said.

According to the spokesman, all of those rescued were being brought back to Italian shores and some reached Lampedusa, Italy's southernmost island, during the night.

The Italian coastguard spokesman also said they expected rescue operations to continue throughout Sunday.

The mild spring weather and the calm summer seas are expected to push total arrivals in Italy for 2015 to 200,000, an increase of 30,000 over last year, according to an Interior Ministry projection. 

At least 1,750 migrants have died so far this year attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.

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