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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Twenty-nine migrants die after boat sinks in Canal off Calais – rescue mission underway | UK News

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Twenty-nine migrants have drowned while trying to cross the canal in an inflatable boat, the Calais MP told Sky News.

Pierre Henri Dumont said the figure was the most up-to-date he had; before, the mayor of the city had coded it in 27.

Several others are believed to have been injured after their ship capsized near Calais this afternoon.

A UK patrol boat, a French lifeboat and three helicopters are involved in the rescue efforts while five people remain missing, French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is holding a meeting of the UK COBRA emergency committee in response.

It is the worst incident in history involving migrants trying to cross into the UK by sea, French maritime authorities said.

The newspaper La Voix Du Nord, citing a police source, said there were up to 50 migrants on board.

More about migrant crossings

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin is heading to the area and Prime Minister Jean Castex called it a “tragedy”.

He tweeted: “My thoughts go out to the many missing and injured, victims of criminal traffickers who exploit their anguish and wounds.”

Fisherman Nicolas Margolle said he had seen two small things, one with people on board and the other empty.

Migrants aboard a Border Force rescue boat wait to disembark in the port of Dover, after having crossed the channel, in Dover, Great Britain, on November 24, 2021. REUTERS / Henry Nicholls
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Another group of migrants arrived at the port of Dover on Wednesday morning.

He said another fisherman had called rescuers after seeing the empty thing and 15 people motionless in the water.

A French navy ship recovered an unidentified number of dead and wounded, including some who were unconscious, a spokesman for the maritime authority said.

The Strait of Dover is the world’s busiest shipping lane and more than 25,700 people have made the dangerous journey to the UK this year.

Migrants are brought ashore aboard an RNLI lifeboat, after crossing the canal, in Dungeness, Great Britain, on November 24, 2021. REUTERS / Henry Nicholls
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More migrants were brought ashore by the RNLI in Dungeness on Wednesday.

That figure is three times the total for 2020, according to data compiled by the PA news agency.

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke said: “This is an absolute tragedy. It underscores why saving lives at sea begins with stopping ships entering the water in the first place.

“As winter approaches, the seas will become rougher, the water colder and the risk of even more lives being lost tragically will be greater.

“That is why stopping these dangerous crossings is the humane and the right thing to do.”

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