More than 700 people have been rescued from the Mediterranean in the last 36 hours as operations to assist migrants attempting to cross the sea from Libya continued.

The surge in rescues came as EU leaders met in Malta to discuss the ongoing migrant crisis and what could be done to help "stem illegal flows into the EU".

According to the international humanitarian NGO Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) their rescue boat Aquarius rescued 785 people on Friday.

Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms, also confirmed it had rescued a number of people, including a two year old, from a rubber boat sailing out of control in the Mediterranean Sea about 21 miles north of Sabratha, Libya, on Friday.

The rescues coincided with European Council President Donald Tusk's announcement that the 28 countries in the European Union had agreed to "work with the IOM to step up voluntary returns from Libya to countries of origin" as well boosting training, equipment and support to the Libyan coast guard.