The Italian coast guard says it has helped coordinate the rescue of some 800 migrants on the Mediterranean Sea.

The coast guard said they were spotted in five boats, including two rubber dinghies, on Saturday.

It said seven children who had water in their lungs were taken by helicopter to the nearest hospital that could treat them, located in Sfax, Tunisia. The coast guard also said two bodies were recovered.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants have been rescued at sea in recent years and taken to ports in southern Italy. Some are seeking refuge from armed conflicts, while many others, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa, are economic migrants likely to be found ineligible for asylum in Europe.

Human traffickers launch overcrowded, unseaworthy boats from Libya and other countries with Mediterranean coastlines.