292 migrants arrived in UK on same day boat sank in the ChannelDecember 16, 2023
Nearly 300 migrants arrived in UK on same day person died when boat sank in the Channel
- Home figures show about 292 people made the crossing in seven boats
By Daniel Fessahaye
Nearly 300 migrants arrived in the UK on the same day a person died when a boat sank in the English Channel, latest figures show.
Some 292 people made the crossing in seven boats on Friday, according to Home Office figures published on Saturday.
The data comes after it was confirmed a migrant died and another was left in a critical condition during an incident on Friday.
More than 60 people were on board a boat as it began to deflate about five miles off the northern coast of France in the early hours of the morning, the French coastguard said.
The first group of people were pulled from the water at 1.15am local time (12.15am GMT) in the French-led operation, with 66 rescued and taken to safety within an hour.
Migrants rescued by the French coast guard following a tragedy near Calais this yesterday morning
A child is picked up by a firefighter after escaping a sinking vessel at Sangatte yesterday
The crossings were the first to take place in a fortnight, with the Government last recording arrivals on December 3, when 118 people entered the country.
Saturday’s figures bring the total number of people arriving via the English Channel this year to 29,382, compared with 45,195 people last year on this date.
In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Home Secretary James Cleverly described the migrant’s death as a ‘horrific reminder of the people smugglers’ brutality’.
About 25,000 people have been ‘averted from crossing this year – but we must and will do more’, he said, adding: ‘My thanks to all those involved in the rescue. Every boat stopped is a potential life saved.’
On Friday, two UK-bound migrants died in separate small boat disasters in the English Channel.
READ MORE: Search continues for two more missing migrants after asylum seeker died when inflatable dinghy packed with 66 people started sinking in English Channel
Separately, a 25-year-old Sudanese man died of cardiac arrest following clashes with French riot police after a vessel sank at the Sangatte beach in Calais around 8:30am. He was declared dead at midday
‘The boat was sinking just after 7.30am, while it was still dark,’ said an investigating source. ‘There was chaos when riot police arrived on the beach, and tear gas was used to restrain dozens of people who had been on the boat.’
Downing Street said the tragedy near Grand Fort Philippe underlines the importance of Rishi Sunak to stop small boat crossings from France to Britain.
‘It serves as a stark reminder of how dangerous these crossings are and just how crucial it is that we work together to stop the boats and clamp down on the organised criminal gangs that are fuelling it,’ a spokesperson said.
In the earlier incident, French rescue vessels including the Apollo Moon and Notre Dame de Flandres responded to a Mayday appeal and 59 people out of around 80 were plucked out of the water by 2.15am.
‘Two of the rescued were found unconscious,’ said a spokesman for the emergency services.
‘One of them could not be resuscitated and died. Another victim, whose life is in danger, was evacuated by helicopter to Calais hospital.’
Helicopters were involved in a search-and-rescue operation, and everybody was accounted for by around 11am.
None of the victims in either incident were identified, but all are thought to be from the Middle East and Africa.
They were taking part in the first attempted crossings by small boats for 11 days because of poor weather in the Channel.
Both had been organised by people smugglers, meaning a criminal enquiry was launched into the tragedies.
In the second incident, local police said five were arrested ‘including a suspected people smuggler’.
A source from humanitarian association Utopia 56 said children were found in a ‘state of hypothermia’ in Sangatte this morning, the water falling to just 12C.
Some 730 people attempted the crossing from France to England in the first three days of December, when the sea was calm.
And 29,000 people have reached the UK in small boats this year, despite the British government saying ‘stopping the boats’ is a priority.
Emergency services attend the site of a small boat crossing disaster in the Channel today
Rescue ship Esvagt Charlie was deployed by French coastguard authority Premar to help those stuck in the water off the coast of Grand Fort Philippe
The government is pushing ahead with a plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda, despite the London Supreme Court ruling that the policy is unlawful.
The English Channel is one of the busiest and most dangerous shipping lanes in the world.
In August, six people died after a boat carrying migrants sank in the Channel off the French coast.
And in November 2021, at least 27 migrants died after a dinghy sank while heading to the UK – the highest recorded number of deaths from a single incident.
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