A large operation is underway off Italy’s coast to rescue 1,300 migrants in overcrowded boats.

The country’s navy and coastguard say they are racing to help three vessels near the southern region of Calabria.

Italy’s coastguard described the operation as “particularly complex”, because of the number of boats and people at risk.

The rescue effort comes almost two weeks after at least 73 migrants died in a shipwreck in the same region.

The victims included a six-year-old boy whose body was discovered on Friday.

After last month’s disaster, Italy’s far-right government was accused of not doing enough to prevent the loss of lives.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni responded by taking her cabinet to the site of the wreck in the town of Cutro.

She has proposed prison terms of up to 30 years for people smugglers responsible for deaths and serious injuries.

Italy has seen an increase of migrants arriving by sea this year. It has recorded three times as many arrivals as during the same period last year, according to its interior ministry.

BBC/Simeon Ugbodovon

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