Home » More than 20 people believed to have died after refugee boat sinks in Channel – latest updates
More than 20 people believed to have died after refugee boat sinks in Channel – latest updates
November 24, 2021europe
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “It’s heartbreaking to hear that the lives of more ordinary people have been lost on a harrowing journey to Britain in search of safety.
“How many tragedies like this must we see before the government fundamentally changes its approach by committing to an ambitious expansion of safe routes for those men, women and children in desperate need of protection?
“Every day, people are forced to flee their home through no fault of their own. Now is the time to end the cruel and ineffective tactic of seeking to punish or push away those who try and find safety in our country.”
Jean-Marc Puissesseau, head of the ports of Calais and Boulogne, told BBC News he understood there were 50 people on the boat: “What I heard is that there are 30 people dead until now five or six which have been found.”
Prime minister Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee in response to the migrant deaths in the Channel, Downing Street said.
Reuters reports that Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart told BFM television the death toll now stood at 27, minutes after another mayor put the tally at 24.
The local coast guard said they could not yet confirm the number of deaths, adding that rescue services had found around 20 people in the water of whom only two were conscious.
They estimated that there had been about 30 people on the dinghy before it capsized.
Unconfirmed reports said that an inflatable dingy capsized near Calais. A rescue operation is still underway with both French and British authorities involved looking for survivors.
The French interior ministry said in a statement that French patrol vessels found corpses and people unconscious in the water after a fisherman sounded the alarm about the accident, AFP reports. Police then said in a statement that “over 20” people had died.
Three helicopters and three boats have been deployed to take part in the search, local authorities said.
Interior minister Gerald Darmanin, who is heading to the scene, wrote on Twitter that “many people” had died in the incident, adding that “the criminal nature of the smugglers who organise these crossings cannot be condemned enough”.
Care4Calais, a charity working in northern France, helping refugees, tweeted:
More than 20 people are understood to have died after their boat sank in the Channel, French media has reported.
BBC News reported that “at least 24 people” have died. The figure came from a local mayor speaking in France.
The French prime minister, Jean Castex, tweeted: “The shipwreck in the Channel is a tragedy, my thoughts are with the many missing and injured, victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their distress and misery.”