One dead and two missing after small boat incident in Channel as urgent search and rescue operation launched

28 February 2024, 17:14 | Updated: 28 February 2024, 18:30

French authorities are said to be handling the situation.
French authorities are said to be handling the situation. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

One person has died and two others are still missing, the French coastguard said on Wednesday.

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The French navy confirmed it carried out four rescue operations on Wednesday to help around 180 people, according to a statement from the coastguard.

They were unable to resuscitate one person and two others have yet to be found in the water.

It is thought they fell into the water off the coast of Cap Gris-Nez in northern France on Wednesday afternoon.

A spokesman for the Home Office said in a statement: "We can confirm there has been an incident in the Channel involving a small boat in French waters.

"French authorities are leading the response and investigation. We will not be commenting further at this stage."

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Patrick Leleu, deputy prosecutor at the Judicial court of Boulogne-sur-Mer, said: "I can confirm the death of three migrants who fell into the water this afternoon off the coast of Cap Gris Nez. The investigation is ongoing."

Dozens of migrants made the journey across the Channel amid treacherous conditions with strong winds and thick fog on Wednesday.

It comes after five migrants died while trying to cross the Channel in January.

Around 70 migrants were attempting to get into a small boat when it overturned.

On Sunday, 290 people made the dangerous Channel crossing, marking the highest number of people in a single day in February, statistics from the Home Office show.

Previously the highest number in a single day in February was 218, which was recorded last year.

This brings the total number for the year so far up to 2,006 people.

The number of Channel arrivals is 32% lower than the total recorded this time last year (2,953) but 49% higher than the total at this stage in 2022 (1,482).

Some 29,437 migrants arrived in the UK after making the crossing in 2023, down 36% on a record 45,774 arrivals in 2022.

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