News   /   France

Six die as refugee boat sinks in the English Channel

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A MSC Taku CPP British boat (L) and a Cormoran public service patrol boat are taking part in a search and rescue operation off the northern port city of Calais on August 12, 2023.

Six people died when a boat carrying dozens of refugees to Britain sank in the English Channel on Saturday, French officials say.

The deputy public prosecutor for the French coastal city of Boulogne, Philippe Sabatier, said all six victims six were Afghan men who were believed to be in their 30s.

He said that the rest of the passengers were "almost all Afghans with some Sudanese, mostly adults with some minors."  

He said 49 people were rescued.

The French coastal authority Premar said up to two people were listed as missing on Saturday afternoon.

Local mayor Franck Dhersin said a large rescue operation was launched at around 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) as dozens of migrant boats tried to make the crossing at the same time.

Some of those rescued were taken to the northern port city of Calais, near where one of the migrant boats capsized.

Several attempts have been made to cross the Channel in boats in recent days as weather conditions improved.

Premar said 116 people have been rescued, including children, on three separate boats overnight Thursday.

Some 755 refugees were also detected on 14 small boats heading for England's southern coast, he said.

The English Channel is one of the world’s busiest waterways and crossing on small boats is extremely dangerous.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made stopping boats making the perilous crossing across the English Channel one of his top priorities.

But as of this week, 100,000 refugees have crossed the Channel since 2018, including nearly 16,000 this year, official figures showed Friday.

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