France says 5 migrants dead after boat sinks in Channel

France says 5 migrants dead after boat sinks in Channel
2 min read
24 November, 2021
At least five migrants were killed when their boat sank off the coast of the northern port of Calais, according to French authorities.
A refugee boat capsised around Calais [Getty]

At least five migrants died on Wednesday seeking to cross the Channel from France to England when their boat sank off the coast of the northern port of Calais, French authorities said.

The French interior ministry said in a statement that French patrol vessels found five corpses and five more people unconscious in the water after a fisherman sounded the alarm about the accident.

Three helicopters and three boats have been deployed to take part in the search, local authorities said.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who is heading to the scene, wrote on Twitter that "many people" had died in the incident, adding that "the criminal nature of the smugglers who organise these crossings cannot be condemned enough."

The disaster, the worst single loss of life recorded in recent times from migrant crossings in the Channel, comes as tensions grow between London and Paris over the record numbers of people crossing, with Britain urging tougher action from France to stop them making the voyage.

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According to the French authorities, 31,500 people attempted to leave for Britain since the start of the year and 7,800 people have been rescued at sea, figures which doubled since August.

Seven people have been confirmed dead or are still missing feared drowned after various incidents this year.

In Britain, the ruling right-wing Conservative party of Prime Minister Boris Johnson is coming under intense pressure, including from its own supporters, to reduce the numbers crossing.

According to British authorities, more than 25,000 people have now arrived illegally so far this year, already triple the figure recorded in 2020.

The issue has added to growing post-Brexit tensions between Britain and France, with a row on fishing rights also still unresolved.