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More than 20 migrants drown crossing English channel – reports



M

ore than 20 migrants have died after their boat capsized in the English Channel, French media has reported.

At least 24 people died after their dinghy overturned on Wednesday while trying to cross the Channel from France to Britain, a local mayor told France 3 television.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee in response to the deaths, Downing Street said.

France’s prime minister said the shipwreck on Wednesday was a “tragedy” and his thoughts were with “victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their distress and injury”.

While the total number of deaths is unclear, the French AFP news agency has reported that 27 people are believed to have died.

French politician Franck Dhersin said on Twitter that a boat with more than 50 people aboard had sunk in the middle of the Channel.

He reported that at least 24 people had died in the capsizing while others had survived.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said he was headed there. “Strong emotion in the face of the tragedy of numerous deaths due to the capsizing of a migrant boat in the English Channel,” he wrote in a tweet.

Two helicopters and three police or rescue boats were at the scene, local authorities said.

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke has said the events are an “absolute tragedy”.

She continued: “It underlines why saving lives at sea starts by stopping the boats entering the water in the first place.

“As winter is approaching the seas will get rougher, the water colder, the risk of even more lives tragically being lost greater.

“That’s why stopping these dangerous crossings is the humanitarian and right thing to do.”

A police source told Reuters: “A search and rescue operation is under way off the coast of Calais. … We think several people have died as their vessel sank.”



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