The development comes as part of European coastguard agencies’ biggest rescue operation this year.

Al Jazeera’s Stephanie Dekker, reporting on Monday from Pozzallo, on the island of Sicily, said that while the boats had docked almost five hours ago, most of the occupants had yet to disembark.

“We’re being told that there is a rigorous one-by-one medical check-up going on to ensure that people do not carry transmittable diseases,” she said.

“You can see that people are getting agitated. It has been a very stressful journey for them.”

She said that only about five people out of 900 people had been allowed to disembark during the night on Sunday. These included women with young children and one wounded man.

Our correspondent said the authorities would decide where they would be sent to once they had disembarked.

Seven bodies were found on two large rubber boats packed with migrants, and rescuers picked from the sea the corpses of three others who had jumped into the water when they saw a merchant ship approaching, the Italian coastguard said.

Two weeks after nearly 900 boat people drowned in the worst Mediterranean shipwreck in living memory, the flow of people desperate to reach a better life in Europe has accelerated as people smugglers take advantage of calmer seas.

Italy’s coastguard has coordinated the rescue efforts by its own navy and coastguard, a French ship acting on behalf of the European border control agency, merchant ships and one vessel run by the privately funded Migrant Offshore Aid Station.

Separately, authorities in Egypt said that three people died when a migrant boat attempting to reach Greece sank off its coast. They said 31 people were rescued.

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Source: Al Jazeera and agencies