At least 31 dead including a child after a boat sank in the English Channel as it tried to reach the UK
Women and children, wrapped in blankets, were among those who made it to the UK after dozens were thrown overboard, ITV News’ Martha Fairlie reports.
At least 31 people, including a little girl, have died in the English channel and others are injured after attempting to make the treacherous trip to the UK in a small boat, the French Home Secretary has confirmed.
It is heard a rubber dinghy sunk in the water between Calais and Dunkirk, in the north of France, after its departure for the British coasts.
A fishing boat sounded the alarm earlier on Wednesday after spotting several bodies in the water, while the maritime authority said a French navy boat recovered several dead and several injured, some of them injured unconscious.
The death toll increased throughout the day as rescue teams searched the waters, with French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin confirming that 31 people drowned, including five women and a little girl.
Four people have been arrested in connection with the incident, he added.
The vice president for the surrounding region, Franck Dhersin, said more than 50 people were aboard the capsized dinghy.
No less than 25 boats set sail from Calais this morning, ITV News was told.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who says he is ‘shocked, dismayed and deeply saddened’ by ‘disaster’, to hold emergency COBRA meeting on tragedy amid growing numbers of migrants risking their lives to reach the UK.
“This disaster underlines how dangerous it is to cross the Channel in this way,” said Boris Johnson
French MP for Calais, Pierre-Henri Dumont, told Sky News that the English Channel was “becoming the new Mediterranean Sea”, adding that it was “like an open-air cemetery”.
He said the UK and France must find a better solution to the migrant crisis.
However, Mr Johnson suggested that the French side was not doing enough, adding: “We have had difficulty persuading some of our partners, especially the French, to do things in a way we believe the situation deserves. “
Speaking to reporters in Downing Street, he said it was vital to ‘break down’ gangs of people traffickers who he said were ‘literally getting away with murder’ and hoped the UK and France could work better together after the tragedy.
ITV News correspondent Juliet Bremner, reporting from Dover, explains how people can only survive for a few minutes if they are catapulted into icy water
The Prime Minister continued: âMy thoughts and sympathies are first of all with the victims and their families. It is a terrible thing that they suffered.
âI also want to say that this disaster underlines how dangerous it is to cross the Channel in this wayâ¦
“But what I’m afraid it also shows is that the operation led by our friends on the beaches, supported as you know with Â£ 54million from the UK to help patrol the beaches, the technical support we provided was not enough. “
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “The loss of life in such dangerous and desperate circumstances is a devastating and heartbreaking tragedy.
“The British government, France and the international community at large have a duty to prevent people from being forced into such peril.”
Last Tuesday, ITV News reported on a canoe of migrants traveling from France to the UK – unhindered by French authorities
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government’s new immigration proposals “will overhaul our broken asylum system” and tackle “pull factors encouraging migrants” to attempt crossings .
“We will continue to intensify all cooperation with France and other European partners to prevent migrants from embarking on these deadly journeys,” she added.
British and French authorities are searching the area using helicopters and coastguard vessels, according to the French maritime agency for the region.
The fisherman, Nicolas Margolle, told Reuters news agency he spotted two small rubber dinghies on Wednesday – one empty and the other with people on board.
He said another fisherman called for rescue teams after seeing 15 people floating motionless near an empty dinghy.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the incident was a “tragedy”.âMy thoughts are with the many missing and injured, victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their distress and injuries,â he said.
Dover MP Natalie Elphicke said: âThis is an absolute tragedy. It highlights why saving lives at sea starts with preventing boats from entering the water in the first place.
âAs winter approaches, the sea will become rougher, the water colder, the risk of tragically losing even more lives will increase.âThis is why stopping these dangerous passages is the humanitarian and right thing to do. “
This comes after the numbers have shown the number of migrants who have crossed the Channel in small boats this year is now triple the total for the whole of 2020.
More than 25,700 people have made the dangerous journey to the UK in small boats this year, according to data compiled by the PA news agency.
The Strait of Pas de Calais is the world’s busiest shipping route and has claimed the lives of many people trying to get to Britain in rubber dinghies.