EFEGeneva

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday that 111,500 migrants and refugees have been rescued so far this year in the central Mediterranean between the north of Libya and coast of Italy.

In the latest large-scale rescue operation, 7,027 people were rescued over the past 48 hours, spokesperson for the organization Joel Millman said Tuesday.

Rescue operations were conducted with boats from Italy, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Norway, as well as a vessel from the NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

Many small groups traveling on inflatable rafts were rescued from the Strait of Sicily.

Others were saved from small wooden boats and from two larger fishing boats.

The Italian Coast Guard carries out daily rescue operations for migrants and refugees who have left Libya for Europe, but it said that current sea conditions and abnormally strong winds for this time of year could have dissuaded some from embarking on the journey.

While rescue operations in the Mediterranean have been constant, the IOM noted a drop in the number of people who died making the crossing, with 40 deaths in August compared to more than 600 in the same month in 2015 and 2016.

Since the start of the year, 3,165 people have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean, 509 more than in the first eight months of 2015.

Since Jan. 1, 272,070 migrants have arrived by sea to Europe, the majority via Italy and Greece, significantly less than the 354,000 who arrived via the route during the same period of 2015.