Girl, 7, drowns in northern France as boat attempting Channel crossing capsizes

3 March 2024, 13:14

Migrants crossing the Channel in a dinghy (file photo)
Migrants crossing the Channel in a dinghy (file photo). Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

A seven-year-old girl has drowned after a migrant boat attempting to cross the Channel capsized.

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The girl was among 16 on the boat when it capsized in a canal in Watten - around 20 miles away from Calais.

She had been travelling with her pregnant mother, father and three siblings when the incident happened.

The parents and children have since been taken to a hospital in Dunkirk.

The boat had not been able to reach the Channel's open waters, with it understood to have capsized in the Aa river where they boarded.

It "was not appropriately sized to carry so many people," local authorities said in a statement.

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"They were all getting on board from the quay at Watten when the boat collapsed," said Bertrand Gaume, prefect of the Hauts-de-France region.

He added: "Gendarmes and firefighters immediately rushed to the scene."

Others on the boat were a couple, two men, and six young children.

None of them are in a life-threatening condition, Mr Gaume said.

Prosecutors in Dunkirk said "several people are in custody" over the incident.

It comes after three migrants died while trying to cross the Channel on Wednesday.

They fell in the water off the coast of Cap Gris-Nez in northern France.