27 migrants drown in English Channel boat capsize
Published: 11:26 AM, 25 November 2021 Updated: 07:15 PM, 25 November 2021
Migrants were helped by a Royal National Lifeboat Institution before being taken to a beach in Dungeness, on the southeast coast of England, on Wednesday; Photo: AFP
At least 27 migrants were drowned after an inflatable boat capsized while trying to cross the English Channel from France to the United Kingdom, making it one of the deadliest incidents where the highest number of casualties took place on the dangerous route since 2014, said the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The boat capsized on Wednesday evening local time off the coast of Calais, France.
Authorities sounded an alarm on Wednesday night when a fishing boat spotted several bodies floating in the water.
Authorities in the United Kingdom and France are conducting rescue operations by boat and aircraft in the English Channel.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told Reuters the inflatable boat had 33 migrants, two of whom had been rescued. “The dead included five women and two children,” he said.
It was learned that the immigrants on board the sunken boat were traveling from France to the UK illegally through human trafficking rings. Interior Minister Darmanin said “French police had arrested four suspected human traffickers on suspicion of involvement in the incident”.
After an emergency meeting with various parties after the incident, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he was “surprised and shocked” by the news of the accident.
In response, French President Emmanuel Macron commented that “France will not allow the English Channel to be a cemetery.”
The French president has also called for an emergency meeting with the “ministers who are concerned about the challenge of immigration”, BBC reported.
The UK Prime Minister and the French President discussed the incident over the phone and promised to take “all necessary steps to stop the activities of the human trafficking rings”.
Recently thousands of people have traveled from France to the UK by small boats through the English Channel.
According to the UK government figures, 179 small boats carrying migrants entered the UK through the English Channel in November alone. So far this year, a total of 928 boats have made the voyage with migrants.
The official figure estimates that more than 25,700 people have sailed dangerously from France to the UK this year alone, this number was 8,469 last year.