Italy's coast guard says it has managed to rescue some 3,700 migrants in a single day from smugglers' boats off the coast of Libya in 17 separate operations designed to stem the tide of illegal immigration to Europe from refugees leaving North Africa.

The operations took place just weeks after an estimated 800 migrants were drowned when their boat capsized en route to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Italy's version of The Local news website said all the survivors were brought ashore in Italy and that some reached the island of Lampedusa. It quoted the coast guard as saying rescue operations were continuing on Sunday.

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