Nearly 1,300 migrants have reached Italy's Sicily in rescue ships over the weekend after crossing the Mediterranean, according to the country's Coast Guard.

Another 500 migrants are expected to arrive in Sicily in the next few days, after they were picked up from boats off the coast of Libya, Reuters reported.

Statistics released by Italy on Friday (3 March) showed the arrival of migrants in Italy was at a breakneck pace this year. Figures have showed more people are braving the crossing from North Africa than they have in the last three years.

According to the Reuters report, a 16-year-old boy died on one of the ships making its way to Italy. On the east coast of Sicily, Catania, the body of the boy was taken off the Norwegian vessel Siem Pilot that operates on behalf of the European Union border agency Frontex.

"Unfortunately one of the migrants ... died on the Siem Pilot on Friday morning as a result of an illness," Jorgen Berg, the ship's commander said.

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), at least 487 migrants died while crossing the sea as of 2 March. During the first two months of last year the figure was 425.

Italy's Interior ministry data shows that migrant arrivals by boat are up by more than 57% when compared to the same period last year. At least 500,000 people arrived in Italy since 2014 while 181,000 arrived in 2016 alone.

The surge in numbers could be a result of an agreement signed between Italy, the EU and the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli, according to Humanitarian groups. The deal seeks to stop more migrants coming Europe in part by infusing funds to migrant camps that are run the UN-backed government in Libya.

Italy migrants North Africa
A migrant disembarks from Dattilo coast guard vessel in the Sicilian harbour of Augusta, Italy, February 25, 2017REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello