In a deeply saddening event, five migrants tragically drowned in the perilous English Channel after their small boat capsized near Wimereux, northern France. This disaster occurred early Sunday as around 70 individuals tried to embark on the vessel from a beach.
The boat soon encountered dangerous waters, causing it to overturn disastrously. This led to urgent rescue operations by local authorities and coastguards throughout the night near Wimereux, south of Calais.
Foreign Secretary David Cameron expressed profound grief over this loss of life, highlighting the devastating nature of the event.
Reports from local authorities indicate that four of the deceased were from Iraq and Syria. One person is critically injured and is receiving care at a hospital in Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Rescuers saved 32 people from this dire situation, with one person injured but stable.
The crisis began just after the boat left the French coast for England, around 2 AM. As the migrants boarded, they soon found themselves in distress at sea, as per the French maritime prefecture.
A coastal patrol tugboat found the victims’ bodies. Around 50 firefighters and numerous police units were involved in the rescue, as reported by La Voix du Nord.
Survivors were taken to a local community center for medical treatment and support.
Rescue efforts, including several boats and a French Navy helicopter, continued around 5 AM, as La Voix du Nord reported.
The French coast guard confirmed the deaths and mentioned a helicopter in the vicinity.
The UK Coastguard did not engage, as the event occurred in French territorial waters.
Enver Solomon, Refugee Council Chief Executive, called for urgent measures in light of these Channel deaths, including safe passage for those escaping conflict zones.
This incident follows a four-week lull in Channel crossings until January 11, attributed to bad weather, as per the Home Office.
Despite a decrease from 2022’s 45,774 to 29,437 crossings in 2023, this figure is still the second highest on record.