Several feared dead after major incident involving migrant boat in the English Channel
A nearby hospital has been reportedly ordered to "clear the A&E" as multiple casualties are expected.
People are feared dead after a small migrant boat ran into difficulties in the early hours in the English Channel near Kent.
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, the BBC reports.
An Ashford hospital has been "told to clear the A&E" as multiple casualties are expected, GB News claimed.
Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeboats have been dispatched from Dover, Dungeness, Hastings and Ramsgate alongside coastguard rescue teams from Deal, Dungeness and Folkestone.
A source told LBC that "47 people were in the water" and "several have died."
Grim news from the Channel. Source tells @LBC that 47 people were in the water. Several have died. Two helicopters, and around 10 boats involved in the rescue operation.
Another source says given the water temperatures, those involved in the rescue “won’t have a lot of time”.
— Theo Usherwood (@theousherwood) December 14, 2022
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."
It comes just hours after UK Prime Minister Rishi 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."