Nearly 2,000 migrants and refugees were rescued Monday off the Libyan coast, reports the Italian Coast Guard.
Officials say eight separate operations rescued the migrants from overcrowded vessels. They were then taken to Sicily.
Meanwhile, Austria says it is planning to reintroduce tighter border controls along the country’s shared border with Italy amid fears of a new migrant influx.
Austrian police say crews are to begin pouring the foundations for the border control station on the Brenner Pass that links Austria and Italy in the Alps.
The European Union says it is «very concerned».
«If these plans should materialize then we will have to look at them very seriously,» said the Commissions’ spokesperson Natasha Bertaud. «The Brenner pass is essential for freedom of movement within the European Union.»
Bertaud says EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avrampoulos will discuss the issue with Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner during talks Tuesday.
Border controls are currently underway along the so-called Balkan route where migrants, many from war-torn Syria, make their way via Greece. Austrian officials say migrants trying to reach prosperous EU countries will likely turn to that route, now that there is no free passage from Turkey into Greece and on through the West Balkans.
The Austrian government says the new tighter controls will be implemented at several border crossings starting on June 1