LONDON (AP) — British authorities said more than 60 migrants were picked up from small boats Tuesday as they tried to enter the country after crossing the English Channel.

Five small boats were intercepted over a seven-hour period Tuesday morning, with some of the migrants saying they were Iranian nationals and others who said they were Iraqi or Uzbek.

The men, women and children have been medically assessed and are being interviewed by immigration officials.

The interceptions reflect a rise in the number of small boats carrying migrants headed toward the English coast from Europe.

Officials said 79 migrants including some children were picked up trying to get to England on Dec. 4.

“Those attempting to cross the Channel in small boats are putting their lives in grave danger and the ruthless criminals who facilitate crossings do not care about the risk to life,” the Home Office said in a statement.

The Home Office said it is working closely with French authorities and that patrols on French beaches have been doubled.