Four dead after major incident involving small migrant boat in the English Channel 1 year ago

Four dead after major incident involving small migrant boat in the English Channel

The UK Home Secretary has said her "heartfelt thoughts" are with those involved.

Four people have been confirmed dead after a small migrant boat ran into difficulties in the early hours in the English Channel near Kent.

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A major rescue operation involving the UK coastguard, the French Navy and an air ambulance was launched in UK waters in freezing conditions after reports of an incident at about 3.40am.

A nearby fishing boat also helped with the operation.

It has since been confirmed that four people have died, with a person close to the situation telling the BBC that 43 people had been saved, with more than 30 rescued from the water.

The search operation will continue throughout the day, and many more are feared dead given the freezing conditions of the water, a source also said.

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The route of one of the SAR helicopters (FlightRadar24.com)

Throughout Tuesday night, temperatures dropped to 1 degree in Dover in Kent, with it likely to have been colder at sea.

A Status Yellow weather warning for ice was in effect across Kent at the time.

In a statement to the Commons on Wednesday, UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: "These are the days we dread."

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She added that her "heartfelt thoughts" are with those involved.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak earlier expressed his sorrow at the "tragic loss of human life".

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was "heartbreaking" that there have been more deaths in the Channel, and Dover MP Natalie Elphicke said she was "very saddened" to hear of the tragedy.

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A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesperson said: "HM Coastguard is currently coordinating a search and rescue response to an incident involving a small boat off Kent, working with the Navy, Border Force, Kent Police and other partners.

"We have sent Dover, Dungeness, Hastings and Ramsgate RNLI lifeboats and Deal, Dungeness and Folkestone coastguard rescue teams, along with the coastguard area commander.

"HM Coastguard helicopters from Lydd and Lee on Solent and one from the French Navy are involved. A fishing vessel in the area is also assisting in the rescue.

"South East Coast Ambulance and Kent Police are working with us and an air ambulance has been sent."

A UK government spokesperson said: "We are aware of an incident in UK waters and all relevant agencies are supporting a coordinated response. Further details will be provided in due course."

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It comes just hours after Sunak promised to bring in new laws to tackle illegal immigration.

Among a raft of new measures unveiled to curb Channel crossings, he told MPs: "We have to stop the boats. And this government will do what must be done."