Nearly 600 migrants cross English Channel in new daily record

14 August 2021, 00:51

Migrants crossing the English Channel (file photo)
Migrants crossing the English Channel (file photo). Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Nearly 600 people made the perilous trip across the English Channel on Thursday, the highest number recorded in one day.

On Thursday, the day an Eritrean man tragically lost his life trying to reach the UK, at least 592 people succeeded in making the dangerous crossing, latest figures show.

The 27-year-old died after he and four others jumped overboard as their boat started to sink in the Dover Strait.

Read more: Migrant dies in hospital after boat carrying 40 people sinks trying to cross Channel

He is believed to have suffered cardio-respiratory arrest and was evacuated aboard a Belgian Air Force helicopter, French authorities say.

A manslaughter investigation is now under way in France following his death.

The boat is believed to have begun taking on water as it headed for the UK, with a rescue operation launched by authorities.

Latest Home Office figures released on Friday night showed that at least 592 people were rescued or intercepted in their bids to cross the Channel on Thursday - a new record for a single day. The previous record of 482 was set just over a week earlier on August 4.

Read more: New daily record sees migrant Channel crossings pass 10,000 this year

However, at least 155 people were intercepted by French authorities and returned to the continent on Thursday.

It brings the total of successful crossings to more than 11,000 this year, according to PA data.

Thursday's loss of life did not stop more people from attempting the journey on Friday, with individuals seen being brought into the port of Dover in Kent after crossing the Channel.

The Home Office said 25 people reached the UK aboard one boat on Friday while others were returned to France.

Home Secretary Priti Patel and her department have repeatedly vowed to make the Channel route "unviable", but daily crossings have continued.

Charities have criticised Ms Patel and called for the establishment of more safe and legal routes for people wanting to claim asylum in the UK.

Just last week the RNLI released dramatic bodyworn footage for the first time, showing crews pulling men, women and children out of a raft on the English Channel.

The RNLI was forced into defending its actions rescuing migrants in the channel after accusations it is operating a “migrant taxi service”.

Read more: RNLI: We make no apology for rescuing migrants

The charity said: "We're proud of the lifesaving work our volunteers do in the Channel – we make no apology for it.

"Those we rescue are vulnerable people in danger & distress. Each of them is someone’s father, mother, son or daughter - every life is precious."

It comes after the charity was subject to abuse by people on social media who think migrants should not be trying to cross and should either be left to fend for themselves or be arrested.