Six dead after migrant boat capsizes in Channel

12 Aug 2023 06:30pm
For illustrative purpose - Strong winds hit the English Channel. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)
For illustrative purpose - Strong winds hit the English Channel. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

LILLE - Six people were killed when a boat carrying migrants heading to Britain sank in the Channel early Saturday, French maritime officials said, as a search continued to find those still missing.

A spokeswoman from the French coastal authority Premar said between five and 10 passengers were still missing, while 55 had been rescued.

Four French ships and a helicopter plus two British vessels were involved in rescue effort off Sangatte in northern France, authorities said, adding that some survivors were rescued by the British vessels.

Earlier officials had reported that one man of Afghan origin was killed and five others were in a critical condition.

A maritime surveillance plane is also being deployed to the area, the Premar spokesman told AFP.

Some of those rescued were taken to the French port of Calais, where an AFP reporter saw people disembarking from a patrol boat with emergency services on site.

More than 100,000 migrants have crossed the Channel on small boats from France to southeast England since Britain began publicly recording the arrivals in 2018, official figures revealed on Friday.

French authorities have stepped up patrols and other deterrent measures after London agreed in March to send Paris hundreds of millions of euros annually towards the effort.

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The route across one of the world's busiest shipping lanes has repeatedly proved perilous, with several capsizings and scores of migrants drowning in the waters over the last decade.

Five migrants died at sea and four went missing while trying to cross over to Britain from France last year.

In November 2021, 27 migrants died in a boat capsize in the Channel. - AFP