The Italian coast guard says some 1,650 migrants have been rescued at sea in a dozen separate operations in the central Mediterranean.

A total of seven bodies were found in dinghies launched by migrant smugglers.

The coast guard coordinated the rescues Saturday from a total of nine rubber dinghies and three small boats.

Libya-based smugglers have been sending overcrowded, unseaworthy boats from the northern African nation toward Italy.

Portuguese Air Force saves 34 migrants after boat catches fire

Several hundred thousand asylum-seekers and economic migrants, fleeing conflict or poverty in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, have been rescued at sea over the last few years.

Coast guard officials said the nationalities of the migrants rescued on Saturday weren’t immediately determined.

associated press
world newswires

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