At least 27 refugees died when the boat carrying them sank in the English Channeltext_fields
London: A boat carrying refugees and migrants sank while crossing the English Channel and at least 27 people died. The dingy carrying the asylum seekers deflated and led to the incident. This is the worst disaster in recorded history involving migrants in the sea between France and the UK.
The nationalities and identities of the victims were not revealed. French police have arrested four people suspected of being linked to the drowning. French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin called the incident "the biggest [migrant] tragedy that we have seen".
A joint French-British rescue operation involving at least three boats and three helicopters was launched to look for survivors. Two people were hospitalised with severe hypothermia.
More than usual migrants left France's northern shores on Wednesday due to calmer sea conditions. A local fisherman called rescue services after seeing an empty dingy and motionless people reported Reuters. The number of people using small boats and dinghies to cross the sea has risen sharply this year despite the risk.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on France to do more to deter people from attempting the crossing. He said that the trafficking gangs are "literally getting away with murder." French President Emmanuel Macron asked London to stop politicising an issue for domestic gain.
One of the dead victims was an Afghan soldier and his family. He had worked with the British Army and was waiting for help from the UK. The family decided to risk crossing the sea because they hadn't received help after "waiting so long, reported the London-based Times newspaper.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex tweeted that his thoughts are with the missing and injured, and victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their distress and misery.
Rights groups and refugee experts say government policies restricting asylum and tighter surveillance is forcing refugees to take extreme steps in search of safety. L'Auberge des Migrants, an advocacy group, said that the French and British authorities are hiding responsibility by accusing smugglers.