The Italian coast guard says it has carried out 40 operations, rescuing thousands of migrants from boats in the Mediterranean. There had been a drop in migrant landing attempts over the previous week due to bad weather.
The numbers were reported to be high because bad weather over the last eight days in the Mediterranean had prevented boats from leaving Libya. Smugglers were sending out more boats to clear a backlog of migrants waiting to take the dangerous voyage to Europe.
"We got in a day the number of arrivals we normally record in a week, as it often happens after periods of bad weather," the official said.
The Italian coast guard said that the body of one woman had been recovered from a dinghy during the operations on Thursday.
"We saved a total of about 4,500 people in about 40 rescue operations," a spokesman said. The searches are continuing.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported on Wednesday that over the previous week there had been 785 migrant landings in Italy, down 87 per cent compared to the previous seven days.
The IOM has recorded 55,563 migrant arrivals in Italy since the start of the year.
More than 10,000 people have died crossing the Mediterranean to Europe in unseaworthy vessels since 2014, according to UN figures issued earlier this month.
jm/das (dpa, AFP)