Channel crisis: Tragedy at sea claims dozens of lives

Channel crisis

Dozens of people including a young girl have died while trying to cross the Channel to the UK.  The people headed for the UK and drowned in the English Channel near Calais after their boat sank.

  • Two survivors are in intensive care while police have arrested four people suspected of being linked to the drowning. The International Organization for Migration said it was the biggest single loss of life in the Channel since it began collecting data in 2014.
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a Cobra meeting on Wednesday. During the discussion of the incident, he said, he was “appalled” by the tragedy. Then he suggested the French government had not always approached the problem of the crossings “in a way we think the situation deserves”. People trafficking gangs were “literally getting away with murder”, he said.
  • The French interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, said that the dead included five women and a girl. He told an impromptu news conference in Calais that the boat that sank had been “very frail”. He compared it to “a pool you blow up in your garden”.
  • He said 34 people were believed to have been on before it sank. He said that authorities found 31 bodies and the two survivors. Although French press reports later revised down the death toll to 27. Darmanin said that one person was missing. It is still unclear what country the victims originally came from.
  • A rescue operation is underway in the Channel by air and sea as French and British authorities search for anyone still in the water.

Refugee charities urged the government to save lives by opening safe routes for asylum seekers to apply to come to the UK without taking to the sea.