A tragic incident unfolded in the English Channel early Sunday when a boat carrying migrants capsized, resulting in at least six fatalities. Over 50 individuals were rescued from the perilous situation. The boat was one of many attempting to make the crossing from France to England simultaneously, prompting French authorities to initiate a large-scale rescue operation around 6 a.m. local time.
Franck Dhersin, a local mayor, reported that several boats encountered severe difficulties during the crossing. The bodies of the deceased were discovered near the coastal town of Sangatte. French marine authorities confirmed the number of deaths and stated that search-and-rescue operations were still underway.
The English Channel has become a perilous route for thousands of migrants seeking asylum in the United Kingdom in recent years. Human traffickers often exploit these desperate individuals, cramming them into makeshift dinghies that are barely seaworthy and highly susceptible to the Channel’s heavy shipping traffic and rough waves.
A volunteer from one of the rescue boats recounted the harrowing scene of rescuing 54 people from the capsized vessel. She described the desperate attempts of the migrants to keep their sinking boat afloat, even resorting to using their shoes to bail out water.
In response to the tragedy, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced that junior Maritime Affairs Minister Herve Berville would be dispatched to Calais, near the site of the capsizing. The British coastguard also contributed to the rescue efforts, sending a lifeboat from Dover along with a coastguard rescue team and ambulance staff.
The British Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, expressed her condolences for the tragic loss of life. She also acknowledged the efforts of the Border Force teams in supporting the French authorities during this incident.
The U.K. government reports that since 2018, over 100,000 migrants have attempted the crossing from France to England. This year alone, nearly 16,000 migrants have tried to make the perilous journey. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to halt these dangerous crossings, a promise that has come under scrutiny as the number of asylum seekers continues to rise.