Six individuals have lost their lives in a heartbreaking incident as a boat carrying migrants sank in the waters of the English Channel, near the French coast. Two people are still unaccounted for, according to a spokesperson from the French coastal authority Premar. The vessel encountered trouble in the vicinity of Calais during the early hours of Saturday, prompting a swift response from rescue teams.
Both British and French coastguards sprang into action and managed to save around 58 people from the perilous situation. Distressed individuals were seen disembarking from a lifeboat in Dover, with some requiring stretchers due to injuries sustained during the ordeal.
The full extent of injuries remains unclear, and the number of those rescued has evolved as more information comes to light.
Initial reports indicate that a passing ship was the first to alert authorities about the plight of an overloaded boat off the coast of Sangatte. Upon arriving at the scene, the French lifeboat found multiple individuals in the water, some of whom were in distress and calling for assistance. The Dover lifeboat, already engaged in dealing with another migrant boat, joined forces in the rescue mission.
A volunteer on one of the rescue boats reported that migrants onboard were using their shoes to bail water out of the sinking vessel. Anne Thorel emphasized that there were “too many” people on board, underscoring the overcrowded conditions that exacerbated the tragedy.
Rescue crews transported 22 or 23 individuals to Dover, while a French boat carried 36 people to Calais. Despite the joint efforts of rescue teams, two people are still missing, and French Navy aircraft and helicopters were deployed to assist in the search.
Pierre-Henri Dumont, the MP for Calais, shared that authorities are conducting interviews with migrants able to speak and in stable condition to piece together the events leading to the tragedy. While the incident unfolded in French territory, it underscores the cooperation between British and French rescue teams in these operations.
Amidst this tragic incident, Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, expressed gratitude to rescuers while urging the UK government to prioritize an “orderly and humane asylum system.”
The tragic loss of life has sparked discussions about the need for coordinated efforts and patrols along the French coast. As investigations continue, the heartbreaking incident serves as a reminder of the perilous journeys migrants undertake and the shared responsibility to prevent such tragedies in the future.