A total of 2,164 migrants in 12 boats were rescued between the Libyan coast and the Italian island of Lampedusa.

All passengers on board the boats were helped to safety in a major rescue mission by the Italian coastguard in assistance with other vessels, including a navy ship and nearby cargo ships. 

Better weather since last week has encouraged migrants to make the perilous journey from North Africa, where a breakdown of order in Libya has made it almost impossible to police the traffickers who pack people onto rickety boats.
More than 300 people died last week trying to make the crossing, which claimed 3,500 lives last year even before Italy closed its 'Mare Nostrum' search and rescue mission in December.

The coastguard ship, Fiorillo, and several cutters were sent to the latest rescue, along with four merchant ships and two tugboats which were diverted to join the operation.

One navy ship, two police patrol ships and a Maltese vessel had also been mobilised, the coastguard spokesman said.