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Pictured: Migrant with PhD who drowned trying to reach safety of British shores
8 October 2019, 21:21
An Iranian woman who drowned trying to cross the English Channel died saving a baby from the icy waters, a fellow passenger has claimed.
Mitra Mehrad, 31, was aboard a small dingy of 19 other people, including a young child and a baby, when it began to sink.
Dr Mehrad, who had a PhD in Psychology, threw herself into the sea to try and reach a rescue rope from another vessel as they made the perilous journey on 9 August.
But the waves and current soon overpowered her, and Dr Mehrad was soon dragged out to sea as her fellow travellers looked on, helpless.
Ahmed Nadi, who was on the same fateful vessel as Dr Mehrad, told Sky News: "This girl was a very brave girl - and what she did, us men couldn't do. We were not as brave as her. She did it to save the baby and in the end the baby survived."
She is said to have been desperate to reach UK shores because of the dangerous political situation in Iran.
It is thought she arrived in Dunkirk on 6 August, three days before her perilous journey.
Dr Mehrad fell into the water with two other people - both of whom were rescued - during the crossing,.
Mr Nadi added: "We saw with our own eyes a human being drowning. We couldn't do anything - there was nothing we could do. Fifteen men couldn't save her.
"It was impossible. Some people on our dinghy fainted because they couldn't comprehend what was happening. Mitra was just being taken further away from us by the waves."
Survivors from the dingy were given medical treatment in Kent before being transferred to immigration officials.
Police opened an investigation to the disappearance of Dr Mehrad, but closed it when Dutch police found her body floating in their waters.
A police investigation in the Netherlands remains open.
In a statement, a Home Office spokesman said: "This was a tragic incident which resulted in needless loss of life.
"The Home Office will continue to liaise with other agencies as the investigation into this incident continues.
"Crossing the Channel in a small boat is a huge risk. The criminal gangs who perpetuate this are ruthless and do not care about loss of life.
"We thank all the agencies at home and abroad who led the rescue attempt."