Italian politicians based in the north vowed not to shelter any more migrants saved at sea, even as thousands more were being rescued in the Mediterranean from smugglers' boats in distress, reports AP.
All of those rescued will be deposited at ports on Sicily or elsewhere in southern Italy in the coming days, lifting this year's total of new arrivals on Italian soil to more than 50,000.
Lombardy president Roberto Maroni said he would be writing to local mayors and prefects in his region on Monday to warn them not to accept any more "illegal immigrants" allocated by the government.
Municipalities that did not toe the line would have their funding from the region cut, he said.
Elsewhere in the country, however, corruptions investigations have revealed that some local officials gleefully see a cash cow in the shelters.
Mayors of Sicilian and other southern towns have warned for months they've run out of room for migrants, and thousands of the rescued are being resettled in shelters in central and northern Italy while
their asylum requests are processed. The migrants flee poverty, persecution and war in Africa, the Middle East
The vast majority of migrants arriving in Italy are not originally from Libya itself but come from countries further afield, including Mali and Nigeria, while significant numbers have also travelled from Eritrea and Syria.
Mass drownings in the Mediterranean have claimed nearly 1,800 lives so far this year.
The imminent arrival of an extra 4,000 people at southern ports sent the migration crisis back to the top of the political.