The migrants were fleeing to get a better life in Europe
Italian and Maltese authorities rescued nearly 200 migrants stranded at sea in two separate operations overnight, the Italian coast guard said on Tuesday.
Some 107 people, including 28 women and three children, were found adrift in a rubber dinghy some 89 nautical miles south of Lampedusa, an island in the sea channel between Sicily and North Africa, the coast guard said.
Italian authorities also received a distress call from people onboard a dinghy some 80 nautical miles south of Lampedusa, and alerted the Maltese coast guard, who intervened to rescue all 77 passengers.
Each year, thousands of people, escaping from poverty or persecution, embark on the perilous journey from North Africa to Malta and Southern Italy. Hundreds drown along the way, as the unseaworthy vessels used by migrants often run into difficulty.
Over the weekend, 11 people died and 70 were rescued after a rubber dinghy capsized off the Libyan coast.