‘At least 27’ migrants drown after inflatable dinghy flips over while crossing Channel
AT least 27 migrants have reportedly drowned crossing the Channel from France to Britain after an inflatable dinghy flipped over.
It's believed to be the biggest loss of life in the Channel since the crisis began.
At least 27 people are thought to have drowned after a small boat capsized off Calais, and a rescue operation is currently underway in French waters.
Multiple boats of people were also seen landing on Dungeness, Kent this afternoon.
Following the sinking, Dunkirk prosecutors opened a criminal investigation for "manslaughter" and "assistance with illegal immigration in an organised gang".
It follows claims that people smugglers had organised the passage of the overcrowded boat, charging thousands to those on board to get to Britain.
A spokesman for Dunkirk prosecutors confirmed the opening of the investigation, saying preliminary reports were already being compiled.
According to the French government, the tragedy happened shortly after 2pm.
French politician Franck Dhersin says as many as 24 migrants have died in the tragic incident in the Channel.
The vice-president of the Hauts-de-France regional council tweeted: "Already 24 corpses recovered off Dunkirk but fortunately also survivors."
Earlier, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Paris said: "At least five people died have died. The toll could be heavier.
"Around 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, a fisherman reported the discovery of about fifteen bodies floating off Calais.
"A French Navy vessel recovered several bodies, including five dead people and five unconscious, according to an early report."
French prime minister Jean Castex said the shipwreck was a "tragedy".
"My thoughts are with the many missing and injured, victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their distress and injury," he said.
The number who have reached the UK by boat this year is now more than three times the total for the whole of last year.
Several records have been broken in recent weeks as more continue to make the dangerous journey to Britain.
The current record is 1,185 landing in Britain in a single day, as Priti Patel faces mounting pressure to get a grip on the crisis.
The Home Secretary said earlier this week that an offer of Border Force guards and cops to beef up Channel patrols has been snubbed.
She made the dig during a stormy grilling in the Commons over the small boats crisis that's infuriating Tory MPs.
Last week it was revealed only five asylum seekers out of 24,000 who've made the treacherous crossing this year have been returned.
Dover MP Natalie Elphicke says the crisis has "gone on for too long".
"We need to stop further loss of life this winter," she said.
"Today’s tragic events are a wake-up call.
"It’s time to take swift and effective action to end this crisis once and for all.”
It comes after around 40 migrants were pictured launching dinghies into the English Channel this morning in a fresh attempt to reach Britain.
The migrants, including at least five children, were spotted going into the water from a beach near Wimereux, just a few miles north of Boulogne-sur-Mer, in the early hours of the morning.
Some 25,000 migrants have crossed the Channel this year – far eclipsing the roughly 8,000 who came in 2020 and 1,000 who arrived in 2019.
More than 4,000 have made the journey in November so-far, the most ever in a single month, and the surge shows no sign of slowing down.
French officials revealed details for the first time of how they have spent £9million from the British taxpayer, agreed as part of a £54million deal in the summer.
A spokesman for the interior ministry said: "More than 100 mobile vehicles are being delivered on the ground for patrols and arrests, with equipment adapted to the specific nature of the terrain."
Specialist kit would include quad bikes, 4x4s, rigid-hulled boats and "vehicles equipped with sophisticated monitoring and detection equipment."
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