Migrant dies in English Channel trying as more than 60 rescued

Migrant dies in English Channel trying to get to UK as French authorities are called to rescue 66 people from overloaded boat that was sinking

A migrant has died trying to reach the UK in the English Channel after a boat carrying him and more than 60 others got into difficulty.

French coastguard authorities received a distress call at around midnight to attend to a boat that had partially deflated in the water around five miles off the coast of Calais.

A rescue ship, Esvagt Charlie, arrived on the scene half an hour later before further resources were deployed from the Navy and two lifeboat stations belonging to the SNSM, France’s answer to the RNLI lifeboat charity.

A total of 66 people were rescued – but two were unconscious at the time of being plucked from the water. 

Of those, one could not be revived, coastguard authority Premar said on Friday following the rescue operation; the other remains in a critical condition and has been airlifted to hospital in Calais.

French authorities were called to help a boat carrying more than 60 migrants after it got into difficulty off the coast of Calais (file picture of migrants crossing the channel in August)

Rescue ship Esvagt Charlie was deployed by French coastguard authority Premar to help those stuck in the water

More than 29,000 people have crossed the English Channel to reach the UK so far this year – more than the same time in 2021, but fewer than last year

The others who were travelling in the boat have been taken back to the French port city. 

In a statement, Premar said it had been alerted to a “migrant boat…in difficulty” after one of its tubes “deflated”.

It added: ‘The first castaways were rescued by the Esvagt Charlie around 1.15am.

‘Around 2.15am, 59 people were rescued by the Esvagt Charlie, including two unconscious people. At the same time, (SNSM rescue boat) SNS 276 rescued 7 people.

‘An unconscious victim, with a life-threatening condition, was evacuated by helicopter to Calais hospital.

‘The second unconscious person unfortunately could not be resuscitated.All the rescued castaways will be disembarked and taken care of at the port of Calais.

‘Area searches continue by air and sea.’

The news of the tragedy was first reported by the BBC.

This year is the second highest on record for boat arrivals – with more than 29,000 people making the journey across the Channel, topping the 28,526 who did so in 2021.

However, boat crossings are down on last year, when 45,755 people made the perilous journey across the world’s busiest shipping lane. Around one per cent of small boat arrivals are being ejected from the UK, according to figures.

French immigration minister Gerald Darmanin is set to visit Calais today – days after his immigration bill promising a crackdown on undocumented arrivals was narrowly defeated in the French parliament.

The death of the migrant in the Channel also comes days after an asylum seeker on board the Bibby Stockholm barge took his own life. 

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