Dozens die after boat carrying migrants capsizes in the English Channel

Dozens die after boat carrying migrants capsizes in the English Channel
Dozens die after boat carrying migrants capsizes in the English Channel

6 hours ago

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A French boat belonging to the Maritime Rescue Organization carrying the bodies of migrants to the port of Calais

At least 27 people bound for the United Kingdom have drowned in the English Channel near Calais on the French mainland after their boat sank.

The International Organization for Migration said it was the largest loss of life in the Channel since it began collecting data in 2014.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “shocked” by what had happened, adding that the UK would spare no effort to stop human trafficking gangs.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that among the dead were five women and a young girl, noting that two people had been rescued and another missing.

He added that four people were arrested near the Belgian border, saying: “We suspect that they are directly linked to that crossing.”

Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed, Wednesday evening, to intensify joint efforts to prevent crossings and stop gangs that endanger people’s lives, according to a statement to Downing Street (the seat of the British government).

A fishing boat sounded its siren on Wednesday afternoon after it spotted several people in the sea off the coast of France.

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French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that among the dead were five women and a girl

French and British authorities are conducting a rescue operation by air and sea to see if they can find anyone in the middle of the sea.

Johnson described the deaths as a “disaster”, adding that it was necessary to “crush” the human trafficking gangs who, in his words, “get away with murder”.

Speaking after presiding over an emergency meeting of the Cobra Committee, the Prime Minister said there was more work to be done to prevent criminals from organizing the crossings.

“It also shows how important it is that we redouble our efforts now to crush the business model of gangsters who send people to sea in this way,” he said.

He also acknowledged that efforts so far to stem the flow of migrants across the Channel in small boats “have not been enough” and that the UK will offer to increase its support for France.

The UK has pledged to give France €62.7 million over 2021-22 to help increase police patrols along its coast, boost air traffic and bolster security infrastructure at ports.

Home Secretary Priti Patel wrote on Twitter that the deaths served as the “strongest possible reminder” of the dangers migrants face when trying to cross the canal.

“France will not let the canal become a cemetery,” French President Emmanuel Macron said.

He promised to “find those responsible” for the tragedy and “convict them”.

Macron also called for an “emergency meeting of European ministers on the migration challenge.”

He said that since the beginning of this year, 1,552 smugglers have been arrested in northern France and 44 smuggling networks have been dismantled.

Despite this, Macron added, there have been 47,000 attempts to cross the canal into the UK this year and 7,800 migrants have been rescued.

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Emergency services participate in the rescue operation in the port of Calais

A number of people are believed to have arrived in the UK on small boats on Wednesday, as people were seen being brought ashore in Dover by immigration officials.

BBC Newsnight policy editor Lewis Goodall said he knew 25 boats had attempted to cross so far during the day.

It comes amid record numbers of migrants crossing the border from France into the UK. More than 25,700 people have made the perilous journey to the UK on small boats this year, more than three times the total for 2020.

The Strait of Dover is the world’s busiest shipping lane and has claimed the lives of many people trying to cross into Britain in inflatable boats.

At least 10 other people are believed to have died in the past few weeks while trying to cross.

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