The Maltese military on Tuesday rescued 10 Nigerians and 71 other African migrants from a large dinghy that was adrift and sinking some 18 nautical miles from the island, the police said.
The AFP reported that the migrants, who had alerted the authorities by satellite phone, were transferred onto a Maltese patrol boat in rough seas and taken into port.
A Maltese military spokesman earlier said that 84 people had been rescued but this number turned out to be inaccurate when they were registered on land.
The 81 included seven women and three children.
Sixty-four said they were Eritrean, along with 10 from Nigeria, three from Ghana, two from Cameroon and two from Syria.
Most of the arrivals in Malta are African refugees and migrant workers who cross the Mediterranean from Libya.
This was the first migrant landing in Malta in weeks.
In July, more than 1,000 migrants arrived in a few days, prompting the government to pressure the European Union for assistance.