One migrant dead and another missing after trying to cross English channel

·Freelance Writer
·3 min read
A Border Force vessel intercepts a group of people thought to be migrants in a small boat off the coast of Dover in Kent. Picture date: Friday September 17, 2021. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
A Border Force vessel intercepts a group of people thought to be migrants in a small boat off the coast of Dover in Kent in September. (Getty)

One person has died while another remains missing after trying to cross the English Channel to get to the UK, French authorities have said.

It is believed the person was unconscious when they were pulled from the water and pronounced dead when rescuers returned to the dock.

The dead migrant is believed to be in his thirties and he was thought to have been travelling in a small boat that was carrying around 40 people off the coast of Dunkirk, according to investigators.

More than 400 people were rescued during a French-led operation in the Strait of Pas-de-Calais on Tuesday night and into Wednesday, the authorities said.

A group of people, thought to be migrants, waiting on a Border Force rib to come ashore at Dover marina in Kent, after a small boat incident in the English Channel.
A group of people, thought to be migrants, waiting on a Border Force rib to come ashore at Dover marina in Kent, after a small boat incident in the English Channel. (PA)

Searches were carried out after rescued migrants said someone had fallen into the water, according to the authorities.

In a separate incident, the ferry the Isle of Inishmore stopped its journey to launch a rescue craft to come to the aid of a small boat that had run out of fuel, according to The Times.

The ferry picked up the migrants and took them back to France. 

Yahoo News UK has contacted the Home Office for a comment.

The death comes as figures showed more than 20,000 migrants have travelled to the UK in small boats so far this year.

Watch: Aerial shots show UK Border Force collecting migrants

On Tuesday, UK authorities rescued or intercepted 456 people who had navigated busy shipping lanes from France in small boats.

According to data compiled by the PA news agency, prior to that at least 19,756 people had already reached the UK so far this year, bringing the total to more than 20,200.

This is more than double the total for the whole of 2020.

In 2019, home secretary Priti Patel promised to make migrant crossings an “infrequent phenomenon” by spring 2020 and then pledged in August last year to “make this route unviable”.

During this time, the government has agreed to pay France millions of pounds to increase security on its northern coast.

Campaigners and aid charities have repeatedly called on ministers to overhaul the asylum system in light of the soaring numbers.

Amnesty International UK’s chief executive Sacha Deshmukh said: “We need to remember that these dangerous crossings are taking place because the government has provided no safe alternative for people to exercise their right to seek asylum here.

Home Secretary Priti Patel during a visit to the Border Force facility in Dover, Kent. Picture date: Thursday September 16, 2021.
Home secretary Priti Patel during a visit to the Border Force facility in Dover, Kent, in September. (PA)

“If Priti Patel is truly concerned with tackling criminal gangs and their exploitation of people, she needs to set up safe asylum routes so people no longer need to depend on smugglers.”

Dan O’Mahoney, the Home Office’s Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, described the journey as “dangerous, unnecessary and facilitated by violent criminal gangs profiting from misery”, adding: “We are working with the French to stop boats leaving their beaches and crack down on the criminals driving these crossings.”

Last week Patel described an incident in which as many as three people are thought to be unaccounted for after trying to cross from France to the UK in a dinghy as “appalling” and an “absolute tragedy”.

Two men – both Somali nationals – were rescued off the Essex coast near Harwich on 25 October and searches for any possible remaining survivors have now been called off.

Watch: Migrants arrive in Dover after attempting Channel crossing

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