French maritime authorities came to the aid of 47 migrants this weekend in separate incidents in the English Channel off the northern French coast. Those rescued had been trying to reach southern England in a number of makeshift vessels.
The alarm was raised on Saturday morning, when a group of migrants got into difficulties off the coast at Sangatte, near the port city of Calais. As their vessel began to sink, five people, including a pregnant woman, called the Regional Centre for Supervision and Rescue (CROSS) asking for urgent assistance.
The five were rescued and brought to the French port of Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Another boat with 22 people on board was then spotted drifting in the English Channel, having suffered engine failure. The occupants were brought to Dunkirk.
A third vessel with 20 passengers also suffered engine failure off Touquet and called for help. CROSS intervened and brought the migrants to Boulogne, where they were taken in charge by emergency workers and French border poilice.
All those rescued are reported to be in good health.
The French rescue services helped more than 100 migrants in difficulty in the Channel on Friday.
The authorities say the recent increase in the number of those attempting to reach England by sea has been prompted by the onset of better weather.
At least 9,500 people attempted the dangerous crossing last year, according to police estimates.
Shipping traffic is extremely dense in the English Channel, the currents are strong, and the water very cold. The shortest distance across is 33.8 km.