27 die while trying to cross Channel from France


November 25, 2021


27 die while trying to cross Channel from France

A rescue boat carrying the bodies of migrants arrives in Calais harbour (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)

PARIS: Twenty-seven people have died during an attempt to cross the English Channel from France in the worst accident in a surge of clandestine small-boat crossings that have frayed relations between French and British authorities, Financial Times has said.

French officials said they were alerted to the disaster by the crew of a fishing boat who saw people in the sea in the Dover-Calais strait, it said.

Though President Emmanuel Macron and French interior minister Gérald Darmanin said they believed the death toll was 31, this was reduced to 27 overnight, according to a report given by the interior ministry to the AFP news agency.

Speaking outside a Calais hospital on Wednesday evening, Darmanin said that among the dead were five women and a girl.

“It was an extremely frail boat, and when the rescuers arrived the boat had deflated like an inflatable garden pool.”

He added that four smugglers had been arrested who “we suspect may be directly related to this journey”.

Macron and UK prime minister Boris Johnson had a conversation late on Wednesday night in which the French president underlined their shared responsibility to deal with the increasing number of perilous border crossings made by displaced people, according to a statement released by the Elysée Palace overnight.

(With inputs from Financial Times)