Migrant dies after attempting Channel crossing to Britain from France

One migrant dies in the Channel and another is missing presumed drowned while attempting to reach Britain – after a FERRY was forced to stop and rescue castaways and 400 were plucked from sea on a single day

  • One migrant has died in Channel and another is missing presumed drowned while attempting to reach Britain
  • The body of the man was recovered off Dunkirk but was declared dead by the French authorities
  • Cross-Channel Irish ferry was forced to rescue 13 migrants in sinking dinghy and return them to Calais
  • It is believed that current surge in crossings has been caused by good weather along south coast of England
  • Conservative MP for Dover Natalie Elphicke called for controversial ‘pushback’ tactics against dinghies 

A migrant has died in the Channel and another is missing presumed drowned while attempting to cross by boat from France to Britain.

The body of the man, who has not been identified, was recovered off Dunkirk but he was declared dead by the French authorities. He is believed to have drowned after his boat capsized. The second migrant has not been found and is presumed dead. 

A cross-Channel Irish ferry, the Isle of Inishmore, was even forced to stop and rescue 13 migrants in a sinking dinghy and return them to Calais. Crew threw them a rope to pull their craft to the side of the ship, before rescuing them and returning them to France.

The ferry captain then announced to the passengers: ‘Apologies for the delay, but we had to stop and rescue 13 migrants in distress, whose boat had run out of fuel and was sinking.’

It is believed that the current surge in migrant crossings has been caused by good weather along the coast of southern England since Monday – despite the sudden drop in temperatures – which has seen calm Channel waters. In July and September,  more than 6,000 migrants took advantage of calm seas and clear skies to make the journey across the Dover Strait. 

Dunkirk’s public prosecutor, Sebastien Pive, announced a manslaughter inquiry, saying the boat had been so overloaded it broke down and sank. He also told AFP that attempted crossings had increased this week, likely because of favourable weather conditions.

The surge in crossings led Conservative Dover MP Natalie Elphicke to call for controversial ‘pushback’ tactics to begin immediately against migrant dinghies. She said the French had ‘entirely lost control of their border’, adding: ‘It’s time to take forward additional measures including turning boats around and swiftly returning those who come in illegally.’

Yesterday’s drowning was the second fatal incident in the past ten days, after at least one migrant was reported to have gone overboard by men rescued on a small boat off Harwich, Essex last Tuesday. It is believed to be the single biggest tragedy in the Channel, an international shipping lane, since a Kurdish-Iranian family of five lost their lives in October last year.

The latest migrants to die on the perilous journey were among more than 400 people rescued by French authorities throughout Tuesday night into Wednesday evening. 

It came as it emerged Home Secretary Priti Patel has paid France the first instalment of the £54million to counter Channel migrants, after her French counterpart, Gerald Darmanin, promised to stop 100 per cent of the boats if the UK paid the full amount. So far, fewer than half of the migrants have been intercepted by French authorities, The Times reported.  

A cross-Channel Irish ferry, the Isle of Inishmore, was forced to stop and rescue 13 migrants in a sinking dinghy and return them to Calais

Migrants come ashore at Dungeness in Kent, escorted by border officials and RNLI, after crossing the Channel

Migrants come ashore at Dungeness in Kent, escorted by border officials and RNLI, after crossing the Channel

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard the Dungeness Lifeboat following a small boat incident in the Channel

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by Border Force officers following a small boat incident in the Channel


It is believed that the current surge in migrant crossings has been caused by good weather along the coast of southern England since Monday – despite the sudden drop in temperatures – which has seen calm Channel waters

Footage yesterday showed the moment a Channel ferry was forced to stop and rescue migrants in a sinking dinghy, as the number of illegal crossings this year breached 20,000

Five people believed to be refugees have been discovered in the back of a refrigerated lorry.  

Emergency services were called at around 8.10pm on Tuesday evening to the Poyle Interchange on the M25 Northbound. 

The group of five people, thought to have been suffering from hypothermia, were found in the rear of a loaded 44-tonne refrigerated lorry near to the Harmondsworth immigration removal centre. 

Traffic officers from Thames Valley Police were alerted to the find and called in firefighters to assist with oxygen and a specialist thermal imaging camera. 

A number of people were removed from the rear of the lorry and wrapped in silver space blankets before being taken to the hospital for a check-up.

Those involved have now been handed over to UK border force.  

A spokesman for the London Fire Brigade said one crew from Heathrow attended and used a thermal imaging camera to check the lorry to make sure there were no further stowaways aboard.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said: ‘We were called by our colleagues in Surrey to reports of five people being inside a refrigerated lorry on the M25.

‘Officers from Surrey Police stopped the lorry and Thames Valley Police arrested a 48-year-old man on suspicion of illegally helping asylum seekers to enter the United Kingdom.

‘He remains in police custody at this time.

‘In terms of an update on the five people inside the lorry, this is being dealt with by Surrey Police.’

The Home Office has confirmed that not one of the more than 20,000 migrants who have crossed the Channel and reached Britain this year has been returned to the EU countries through which they passed, where they should have claimed asylum. 

Yesterday, a group of migrants who got into difficulty in the Channel told their rescuers a person had fallen into the sea off Pas-de-Calais. French Navy helicopter Dauphin carried out an extensive search with the help of the fire and rescue service. But this was called off after no one was found by the afternoon.

Another rescue operation saw an unconscious migrant recovered who was later pronounced dead upon arrival at a French port.

A spokesman for the Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea said late on Wednesday night: ‘Unfortunately, despite the means implemented, one person is missing and one other was declared dead, among these very many castaways.

‘Indeed, during a rescue operation, the recovered castaways told rescuers that a person had fallen into the sea off the Pas-de-Calais. The CROSS then engages the Dauphin helicopter to carry out dedicated research. Actions are also coordinated with resources from the departmental fire and rescue service (SDIS).

‘At the end of the morning, after fruitless searches and lack of new information, the maritime prefect of the Channel and the North Sea decided to suspend the searches at sea. In addition, during another rescue operation, a castaway was recovered unconscious. 

‘Rescuers did their best, but this person was pronounced dead upon returning to the dock.’

The French Navy helicopter Dauphin and Belgian Army chopper Caiman helped rescue tug Abeille Languedoc, French Navy patrol vessel Cormorant, Customs patroller Jacques Oudart Fourmentin, Maritime Gendarmerie surveillance boat Scarpe in the multiple rescues.

Various lifeboat crews, assisted by local lighthouse beacons, also joined the emergency response.

It comes just over a week since two Somalian migrants rescued in an emergency 30 miles off Harwich last Tuesday claimed a third man had gone overboard and drowned.

It is the most fatal day of crossings in the Channel since Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35, Anita, nine, Armin, six, and 15-month-old Artin all died after the boat they were travelling in sank in October last year.

The Home Office is yet to confirm how many migrants arrived on UK shores on Wednesday. MailOnline has contacted the department for comment.

Footage yesterday showed the moment a Channel ferry was forced to stop and rescue migrants in a sinking dinghy, as the number of illegal crossings this year breached 20,000. 

Photos taken from onboard the Isle of Ishinore show more than a dozen migrants on a packed boat being propelled through the world’s busiest shipping lane by a single man holding a flimsy paddle. 

The ferry stopped midway through a crossing from Dover to Calais after the craft was spotted drifting 10.45am, with the captain telling passengers: ‘Apologies for the delay but we had to stop and rescue 13 migrants in distress who’s boat had run out of fuel and was sinking’. 

The ship dispatched a rescue craft which threw a rope to the stricken boat so it could be pulled alongside. The crew hauled all 13 migrants to safety and found two of them were without life jackets. They were all taken to Calais. 

Other video emerged of migrants celebrating arriving in Britain by chanting ‘Yay, UK is good’ as they being ferried into Dover on an RNLI lifeboat. 

The video was taken as 456 more migrants arrived from France in 15 small craft, bringing the total number of people who have made the perilous journey so far this year to an astonishing 20,198. 

This is more than double the 8,410 who arrived in Britain last year, and the figure will soon increase after more migrants were seen arriving today. 

Numbers have risen dramatically despite Miss Patel vowing to make Channel crossings an ‘infrequent phenomenon’ by spring 2020.  Facing increasing pressure to ‘get a grip’ on the crisis, she recently agreed to hand a further £54million to Emmanuel Macron’s administration in France to step up patrols on their coast. 

‘Pushback’ tactics – to stop migrant boats and divert them back to France – have also been authorised by Miss Patel, but have yet to come into force. The French oppose these tactics, saying they breach maritime law.  

3/11 Dover

Pictured: A group of migrants are brought to shore by RNLI Dover Lifeboat/Hunter

Border Force as the number of migrants to have crossed the Channel passes 20,000

Priti Patel says deaths of up to three migrants who are feared to have drowned in the Channel is an ‘absolute tragedy’ 

Priti Patel last week said the deaths of up to three migrants who are feared to have drowned in the Channel after trying to reach Britain by boat was an ‘absolute tragedy’.

The individuals are still unaccounted for after trying to cross from France to the UK in a dinghy earlier this month .

Two men – both Somali nationals – were rescued off the Essex coast last Monday and searches for any remaining survivors have now been called off.

Speaking while visiting the Thames Valley Police Training Centre in Reading, Priti Patel said: ‘It is a tragedy. It is an absolute tragedy, it really is.

‘Clearly there are investigations taking place right now so we have to let that investigation process occur.

‘But I can give everyone solid, solid assurance that my work with both France and other counterparts as well is very much based on stopping the loss of life.’

Asked what she would say to their families, Ms Patel said: ‘It is terrible, it is tragic and it is absolutely appalling.

‘We want to stop the loss of human life, and everything that we are doing as a Government is focusing on ensuring that we work in joint co-operation with other governments and other countries to actually get to the source of these issues, which is to stop the people-smuggling.’ 

Yesterday, more migrants were seen arriving onboard the Morrell, an RNLI lifeboat based at Dungeness, Kent, which brought the first group in to Dover Marina shortly before 7am.

Two men wearing lifejackets were seen being walked up the gangway by Immigration Enforcement for processing while their small black dinghy was towed into harbour.

Approximately 40 more migrants were seen packed onto Border Force cutter Hunter before disembarking around 8am. The Morrell returned to the harbour again with around 30 people on board half an hour later. Border Force’s largest catamaran Hurricane was also been bringing dozens of migrants to shore.

It had to double park with a lifeboat and wait to disembark its rescued occupants, draped in red blankets for warmth, around 10.30am this morning.

Many of the men carried their possessions in clear plastic bags.  The RNLI’s Dungeness vessel was also said to be working through the night on search and rescue.

Onlookers monitoring activity in the Channel off the Kent coast predict could see higher numbers of arrivals than on Monday.  

October saw a total of 2,669 migrants make the Channel crossing in 92 boats.

Elsewhere, maritime gendarmerie coastal surveillance boat Escaut recovered 34 migrants while Customs Coast Guard patroller Jacques Oudart Fourmentinis saved 49 people in two operations. 

That is six times more than the 463 who arrived in 33 boats in the same month last year. 

Dan O’Mahoney, Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, said: ‘These journeys are illegal, dangerous, unnecessary and facilitated by violent criminal gangs profiting from misery.

‘We are working with the French to stop boats leaving their beaches and crack down on the criminals driving these crossings.

‘People should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach. The Government’s New Plan for Immigration will fix the system, making it firm on those who abuse it and fair on those in genuine need.’ 

The men were brought into harbour in the hull alongside a tropical-themed blow up boat decorated with pictures of colourful flowers and exotic parrots.

More migrants continued to make the perilous 21-mile journey across the Dover Strait into the late afternoon due to good visibility – but conditions at sea remained choppy.

They were among the first arrivals in a week since 145 arrived in five boats  on October 26.

The Home Office confirmed figures late on Tuesday night.

It said French authorities also prevented an additional 343 migrants from reaching the UK by intercepting seven boats.  

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