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Thousands of Migrants Rescued From Mediterranean Sea in 72 Hours

More than 4,000 migrants and refugees on their way to Europe were saved from multiple shipwrecks since Monday.

More than 4,000 would-be refugees were rescued at sea on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in one of the worst weeks of the Mediterranean migrant crisis. More than 50 died trying to reach Europe as Libyan-based smugglers took advantage of calmer seas and warmer weather to send desperate migrants north.

Above: Migrants and refugees are rescued during an operation at sea with the Aquarius, a former North Atlantic fisheries protection ship now used by humanitarians SOS Mediterranee and Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders), on May 24, 2016 in the Mediterranean sea in front of the Libyan coast.

GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP - Getty Images

Rescuers take care of a child during a rescue operation at sea of migrants and refugees with the Aquarius on Tuesday, May 24. Aquarius along with another MSF ship helped rescue more than 2,000 migrants by Tuesday.

GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP - Getty Images
Migrants react after being rescued by Aquarius and MSF on May 24. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP - Getty Images

Migrants wait in line for food distribution aboard the rescue ship Aquarius on May 25.

GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP - Getty Images

The Aquarius patrolled for days to rescue migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe crossing the Mediterranean sea aboard rubber boats or old fishing boats on May 25.

GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP - Getty Images

A woman and her daughter protect themselves with a blanket aboard the Aquarius, on May 25.

GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP - Getty Images

Migrants wait aboard the Aquarius before arriving in the port of Cagliari, Sardinia on May 26 two days after being rescued near the Libyan coasts.

GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP - Getty Images

A couple of migrants joke aboard the Aquarius, on Wednesday, May 25.

GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP - Getty Images

A shipwreck of migrants and refugees from Libya wave on a bright blue dinghy submerged on on May 25. Up to 30 people died while some 90 migrants were rescued, none of them wearing life jackets, from the waves by Spanish frigate Reina Sofia (unseen), the EU's naval force said.

European Union Naval Force Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR Med) / AFP - Getty Images

Migrants arrive at the Zawiyah port, a Libyan naval base 28 miles west of the capital Tripoli, after they were rescued by workers on a Lybian oil tanker, off the western city of Sabratha on May 24. Around 135 people were saved right after 550 migrants were detained earlier by the Libyan Coast Guard.

MAHMUD TURKIA / AFP - Getty Images

Footage provided by the Italian Navy shows a steel-hulled smuggler ship rocked under the weight of its passengers finally flipping, sending migrants into the water or clambering up the side on May 25.

Marina Militare / Reuters

The Italian Navy vessel Bettica brought the survivors and five bodies ashore in Porto Empedocle, Sicily. Red Cross workers took at least one migrant away in a stretcher, while rescue teams in white hazmat suits carried children down the plank to shore on May 25.

Marina Militare / AFP - Getty Images

Migrants are seen before disembarking from Italian Navy ship Bettica in the Sicilian harbor of Porto Empedocle, Italy, on May 26. The Navy said 500 people had been pulled to safety and seven bodies recovered.

ANTONIO PARRINELLO / Reuters

The image shows the Italian Navy's Bettica patrol boat spotting the smuggler's boat "in precarious conditions off the coast of Libya with numerous migrants aboard," it said in a statement on May 25.

Marina Militare / AFP - Getty Images

Migrants are helped as they disembark from Italian navy ships Bettica in the Sicilian harbor of Porto Empedocle, Italy, on May 26.

ANTONIO PARRINELLO / Reuters

A coffin containing a migrant is removed from Italian Navy ship Bettica in Porto Empedocle, Italy, on May 26.

Before this week's deaths, the International Organization for Migration said only 13 people had drowned in the month of May, compared with 95 last May and 330 in May 2014. It said the figures "indicate that migrant fatalities may at last be declining" thanks to beefed-up coast guard monitoring along the North African coast.

ANTONIO PARRINELLO / Reuters

Refugees disembark from Norwegian ship Siem Pilot, in the harbor of Salerno, on May 26. The Norwegian ship dropped off 1,000 refugees from the sub-Saharan that were rescued in the Mediterranean sea the day before.

CESARE ABBATE / EPA

A man is carried on a stretcher after disembarking from the Norwegian ship Siem Pilot, at the Salerno harbor on May 26. Rescue operations off Libya's coast increased in recent weeks because of calm seas and warm weather conditions that encourage Libyan-based smugglers to crowd hundreds of would-be refugees onto deteriorating boats for the trip to Europe.

Cesare Abbate / AP

A man reacts after disembarking from Siem Pilot in the harbor of Salerno on May 26.

CESARE ABBATE / EPA

People disembark from Siem Pilot at the Salerno harbor on May 26.

Cesare Abbate / AP