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Forty-five bodies were recovered and 135 migrants rescued from a semi-sunken ship, the Italian Navy said overnight, reporting on the third shipwreck in three days in the central Mediterranean.

On Twitter, the navy said Saturday that the corpses were being taken to a yet-to-be disclosed Italian port.

It added that an additional 629 migrants were picked up over the course of several operations and were also being transported to Italy.

In earlier deadly incidents this week, the European Union's naval mission, Eunavfor Med, intervened Thursday to save 96 people from a sinking boat, and said its units had spotted about 20 bodies at sea. They have not been recovered.

On Wednesday, the Italian Navy rescued more than 550 people and five bodies after a migrant boat overturned because it had too many people on board. According to survivors, 650 people were on the vessel, suggesting that about 100 passengers are unaccounted for.

Most of this week's rescues took place about 55 kilometres north of the Libyan city of Zuwarah, a well-known hub for migrant smugglers and departure point for Europe-bound sea journeys.

The number of arrivals to Italy is expected to surge in the coming months as warmer weather facilitates more departures from Libya.

Since Monday, Italian authorities have coordinated the rescue of more than 12,000 sea migrants. This compares with just 1,641 arrivals last week, according to figures compiled by the International Organization for Migration.

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