Europe's Border Crisis

Italy Coast Guard: 4,650 Migrants Saved, 28 Drown Trying to Reach Europe

More than 4,650 migrants were saved and 28 bodies recovered in more than 30 rescue missions in a single day off the Libyan coast, Italy's coast guard said Wednesday.

It brings the total rescued over the past 48 hours to more than 10,000 refugees, and the death toll to 50 as people smugglers take advantage of relatively calm weather to push boats to sea.

PHOTOS: Massive Rescues Off Libya Coast Save Over 10,000 Migrants

The coast guard said the migrants Tuesday were rescued from 33 boats, including 27 rubber dinghies.

At its closest, Libya is about 180 miles from the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Image: Migrants wait to be rescued in the Mediterranean sea on Tuesday.
Migrants wait to be rescued in the Mediterranean sea on Tuesday. ARIS MESSINIS / AFP - Getty Images

Some 13 ships from the coast guard, the Italian and Irish navies, private merchant vessels and humanitarian organizations were involved in the rescues. The coast guard gave no details about the deaths or about the nationalities of those saved.

The latest surge in new arrivals means at least 142,000 migrants have reached Italy since the start of the year and around 3,100 have died making the perilous trip. An estimated 154,000 came to Italy in 2015 and 2,892 died.

The majority come from Africa, including Nigeria, Eritrea, Guinea, Gambia, Sudan, Ivory Coast and Somalia.

Refugee Versus Migrant: What's the Difference? 0:41

The migrants are brought to Italy, where EU and Italian officials work together to identify and fingerprint the asylum seekers. European law says migrants must stay in the country where they first enter the bloc and Italy is increasingly struggling to deal with the growing numbers.