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Tragedy in the Channel: Child Among Five Dead in Migrant Boat Disaster

Coverage of the rescue operations and the tragic outcomes of an overloaded boat journey from Wimereux.

In a harrowing incident early Tuesday morning, five people lost their lives while attempting to cross the English Channel to the UK. Among the deceased was a seven-year-old girl, as reported by French authorities.

The tragedy unfolded when an overloaded boat, carrying 112 migrants, set sail from Wimereux near Boulogne. The vessel initially ran aground on a sandbank but resumed its perilous journey shortly after.

The mayor of the Pas-de-Calais prefecture, Jacques Billant, recounted the harrowing events at a press conference. He described the boat, which embarked from the Plage des Allemands, as carrying “an unprecedented 112 people on board.” Just a few hundred meters from the coast, the engine failed, and several passengers, including children, were thrown into the icy waters.

Rescue operations were quickly mobilised, with the Abeille Normandie patrol boat leading the effort. “When the rescuers arrived, they found several individuals unconscious and in dire straits,” Billant said. Despite immediate medical attention and resuscitation attempts, five individuals, including the young girl, could not be saved.

Danny Patoux, a volunteer with the migrant aid organization Osmose 62, shared his grief with the French radio network Franceinfo. He mourned the loss of the young girl, whom he remembered fondly. “We have photos of her smiling, full of hope for a new life,” he lamented. The child’s father, devastated by the loss, was seen grieving intensely. “He saw his little girl die before his eyes,” Patoux disclosed, highlighting the personal tragedies behind the migration statistics.

While six people were rescued and brought ashore by the patrol boat, 47 others were saved by French authorities. However, a determined group of 57 migrants chose to continue their journey towards the UK after restarting the boat’s engine, under the watch of naval vessels.

The UK’s Border Force reported that it had brought approximately 70 migrants to shore on the same day, with more expected to arrive.

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