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ROME (Reuters) – Some 1,400 migrants were plucked from overcrowded boats off the coast of Libya on Tuesday, Italy’s coastguard said, and two bodies were recovered.

Vessels belonging to the Italian coastguard and finance police, the European Union anti-smuggling operation, Sophia, and ships run by humanitarian groups took part in 11 rescue operations, a statement said.

No details about the nationalities of those rescued were given, nor was there further information about the deaths.

Though hundreds of thousands of migrants have reached Europe via Italy after setting off in boats from North Africa over the past four years, it is unusual to see so many rescued on a single day during the winter when the seas tend to be rough.

So far this year 974 migrants had reached Italy by sea, down from 2,393 during the same period last year, the Interior Ministry said earlier on Tuesday before the latest rescues.

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