Italy’s coast guard said no fewer than 1,800 migrants were rescued from seven overcrowded vessels on Saturday.
It also said that five corpses were found on a large rubber boat carrying 212 other migrants.
The coast guard made this known on Monday in Rome during a briefing and said that the cause of the death of the five persons was yet unknown
Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency said the Mediterranean had become the world’s most deadly barrier for migrants and refugees, with 3,500 persons believed to have died at sea in 2014 and almost 2,000 so far in 2015.
It said that many were fleeing poverty and violence in the Middle East and Africa.
The agency noted that while there was no breakdown by nationality of those rescued on Saturday, more than quarter of arrivals in 2015 were from Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and Syria.
It said that Italy has had no fewer than 90,000 sea migrant arrivals so far in 2015, after receiving 170,000 in 2014.
The agency said that many of the newcomers were inspired to cross over swiftly to wealthier northern Europe, including England and France.
It disclosed that night movements by large groups of the estimated 5,000 migrants in Calais forcing their way through the rail tunnel linking France and Britain had provoked public anger and severely disrupted trade both countries.