‘Dozens’ of migrants dead after boat sinks in English Channel

, ‘Dozens’ of migrants dead after boat sinks in English Channel, The Evepost BBC News
, ‘Dozens’ of migrants dead after boat sinks in English Channel, The Evepost BBC News

Dozens of migrants are reported to have died after their boat sank in the English Channel.

Twenty-four bodies have been retrieved from the water and 26 people have been rescued after an inflatable dinghy on its way to Britain sank on Wednesday, French officials told the country’s media.

A fishing boat sounded the alarm after spotting several people at sea off the coast of France.

“Twenty-four dead bodies have been taken out of the water as well as 26 people who were still alive,” France 3 television quoted Franck Dhersin, the mayor of the local municipality of Teteghem, as saying.

Three rescue vessels and one helicopter appeared to be attending the scene, according to information available on the MarineTraffic app.

“A search and rescue operation is under way off the coast of Calais…We think several people have died as their vessel sank,” a police source told Reuters on Wednesday afternoon.

The source did not give the exact number of people who had died, adding that doctors would have to confirm the death toll first.

Gerald Darmanin, the French interior minister, also confirmed on Twitter that there had been fatalities in the Channel after a boat capsized on Wednesday.

Speaking later, French prime minister Jean Castex described the incident as a “tragedy”. “My thoughts are with the many missing and injured, victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their distress and injury,” he said.

The latest fatalities follow a string of other migrant deaths in the Channel in recent weeks, amid a record number of people attempting the dangerous crossing. On 11 November, a total of 1,185 people arrived in England by boat, the most in a single day.

One man died making the dangerous crossing on 3 November, while another was found dead the following day on a beach near Calais, after French officials found a boat filled with water.

, ‘Dozens’ of migrants dead after boat sinks in English Channel, The Evepost BBC News

Late last month, another man lost his life after falling off a dinghy as he attempted to reach England. Home secretary Priti Patel confirmed his death to a House of Lords committee on 27 October.

“We want to stop people from drowning at sea, only yesterday there was a loss of life,” she told the group of peers.

One man died making the dangerous crossing on 3 November, while another was found dead the following day on a beach near Calais, after French officials found a boat filled with water.

However, despite these words, experts believe that the Home Office’s plans to “push-back” migrant boats in the Channel will breach international law and also endanger migrants’ lives.

In September, Sonia Lenegan, legal director of the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association, said the tactic was “extremely dangerous and will put lives at risk”.

To challenge the use of push-backs, Channel Rescue, an organisation devoted to ensuring the safety of migrants, has launched a case against Ms Patel.

The pre-trial action comes two months after the organisation’s volunteers said they saw the UK Border Force training its staff to use jet skis to prepare for the implementation of the tactic.

Although Ms Patel has referred to the new policy several times, it is not yet been announced by the government.

Channel Rescue’s legal challenge is based on British and international maritime law, which state that no one can endanger other vessels at sea.

Explaining the move, Kim Bryan, Channel Rescue volunteer, said: “We believe this proposed policy is life-threatening, inhumane and unlawful.

“We have given the Home Office until 29 November to respond to our legal challenge. If we don’t receive a satisfactory response, we will issue judicial review proceedings.”