A migrant dies in the sinking of a boat in the English Channel


A migrant airlifted to hospital from the English Channel after the death of a boat carrying around 40 people that began to sink.

French media initially reported the death of the man, who was taken to Calais by helicopter earlier on Thursday, and the Home Office has since confirmed the information.

The boat reportedly started to take on water as it headed for the UK on Thursday morning.

The rescue operation, involving French and Belgian air and naval units, is underway, according to French authorities.

Others reportedly made it to British shores on Thursday, with reports of a landing on a beach in Kent.

The search began around 10 a.m. after a freighter reported that a boat carrying around 40 people was in difficulty, with a few people overboard, off Dunkirk.

View of one of two areas currently used in a warehouse in Dover, Kent, for boats used by people considered to be migrants. Credit: Pennsylvania

An unconscious person taken aboard the freighter’s lifeboat and transferred to a French Navy ship was then airlifted to Calais hospital.

He would have suffered a cardio-respiratory arrest and would have been evacuated aboard a helicopter of the Belgian Air Force, according to the French authorities.

Home Office illegal channel threat commander Dan O’Mahoney said: “This loss of life is a tragedy and we support our French counterparts leading the response.

“It highlights the terrible dangers of small boat crossings and why we must work with the French to prevent callous criminals from exploiting vulnerable people.”

Several others were also hoisted aboard the helicopter as the migrant boat sank, while others were rescued by nearby fishing boats.

They were all transferred to the Flamant patrol vessel of the French Navy, which headed for the port of Dunkirk.

Last month, a group in a small dinghy told ITV correspondent Dan Rivers where they came from and how many were making the trip.

Search and rescue operations are still underway in the Strait of Pas de Calais, with a French navy helicopter continuing to crisscross the area.

Lisa Doyle, Director of Advocacy and Engagement at the Refugee Council, said: “This tragic loss of life is a sobering reminder that the odds are against ordinary men, women and children, who struggle desperately for safety and protection.

“Every day, people are forced to flee their homes without their being responsible. We can do more to make travel safer.

She urged the government to “change course” and create and commit to safe pathways to asylum.

After days of bad weather in the Strait of Pas de Calais, lighter conditions on Thursday saw a flurry of crossing attempts.

The latest offers to reach the UK come after French authorities intercepted at least 108 people attempting to cross the Channel on Wednesday, with one to be airlifted to Dunkirk hospital.

Better weather conditions on Thursday led to a series of Channel crossing attempts Credit: Pennsylvania

The dangerous sea voyage from France – done by more than 10,000 people, including children so far in 2021 – has claimed many lives in the past.

Among them were Rasoul Iran-Nejad and his wife Shiva Mohammad Panahi, who died with their three children when their boat capsized on October 27, 2020.

Their 15-month-old son Artin was reported missing in the wake of the tragedy and it was not until June of this year that police confirmed that a body found on the Norwegian coast was that of the young boy.

Data shows that the number of successful crossings this year now stands at more than 10,700 people, despite the dangers associated with the journey.

Crossings in 2021 eclipsed last year’s annual total of 8,417 in July.

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