The Italian navy says it has rescued, in a 24-hour period, more than 1000 migrants attempting the perilous journey across the Mediterranean by boat in rough winter seas.
The navy said Friday 832 migrants were rescued in one operation, while another 233 were saved in another effort.
Italy says the rescued men, women and children came mainly from Africa, South Asia and the Middle East.
Last year, Italy began stepping up patrols in the region after a boat filled with migrants sank near Lampedusa, killing at least 359 people.
Italy is a major gateway into Europe for many migrants seeking a better life.
Authorities say worsening humanitarian conditions in the Horn of Africa and Syria have spurred a surge in refugees fleeing to Europe.
(Bulgaria was among European countries that saw a significant increase in the number of refugees arriving from Syria in 2013. Photo: UNHCR/D.Kashavelov)