December 26, 2014 / 5:43 PM / in 3 years

Some 1,250 migrants rescued in Mediterranean over Christmas

ROME (Reuters) - Nearly 1,250 migrants have been rescued in the Mediterranean over the Christmas period and five bodies have been recovered, Italian officials said on Friday.

The migrants were rescued in four separate operations involving ships from Italy and other countries over the past four days in the waters between North Africa and Sicily.

All were being taken to Sicily aboard Italian navy ships, about 900 of them aboard the ship Etna, the navy said.

Four bodies recovered by a Cypriot ship and one by a Maltese ship were also taken to Sicily aboard Italian ships. It was not clear how they died.

Admiral Pier Paolo Ribuffo told RaiNews24 television from one of the ships that the condition of the migrants was generally good and that a Nigerian woman had given birth to a baby boy on the Etna on Christmas day.

He said the rickety boats that had been carrying the migrants sailed from Libya. Most of the migrants were from central Africa.

Some 3,200 migrants have died this year trying to reach Europe from Africa, the International Organisation for Migration has said.

Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by Andrew Roche

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