6,000 people rescued in the Mediterranean in 48 hours

More than 1,000 people have died in the attempt to cross the Mediterranean so far this year

6,000 people rescued in the Mediterranean in 48 hours

FILE PHOTO: Flickr/Irish Defence Forces

Some 6,000 people have been rescued in the Mediterranean Sea over the past 48 hours as they attempted to reach Europe.

The Italian Coast Guard said some 3,000 people were picked up in more than 20 separate rescue operations involving the Italian coast guard and navy, the EU's EUNAVFOR mission in the Mediterranean, European Union border agency Frontex, NGOs and merchant ships.

The coast guard gave no details of the nationalities of those rescued.

The rescues come a day after approximately 3,000 other people were picked up floating on makeshift rafts off the coast of Libya.

The Libyan coastguard has told AFP it had failed to reach a number of others due to a lack of means.

A deal signed between Italy and Libya in February is expected to boost the manpower and resources available to the Libyan Coast Guard.

The deal will see ten speedboats delivered to the Libyan authorities by the end of June.

The International Organisation for Migration said just under 44,000 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea so far this year.

The UN Migration Agency said a confirmed death toll for the first part of 2017 of 1,096 should be considered a low estimate as it's working to verify reports of more fatalities on the Mediterranean.

It is anticipated that 2017 will set a new record for the number of migrants reaching Italy.

Last year, 181,000 people were rescued in the Mediterranean.

More than 4,500 people died attempting the crossing in 2016.