Some 90 African refugees have been rescued at sea off Malta by an Armed Forces Malta patrol vessel, a government statement said on Friday.
The statement said the refugees, including five women, were transferred from their small boat to the patrol vessel at sea, 25 nautical miles off Malta in the western Mediterranean Sea near Italy.
The refugees, mostly from Syria, Palestine and the Horn of Africa, were intending to travel to Malta and its neighboring country of Italy via Libya.
The statement that this week alone the Italian navy has rescued 4,000 asylum seekers, adding that the figures have increased rapidly as spring has brought fairer weather conditions for sea travel.
It added that in 2013, over 2,000 asylum seekers landed on Malta from North Africa, up from 47 in 2010.