Four migrants die trying to cross English Channel in boat- reportson January 14, 2024 at 9:20 am

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A small boat carrying dozens of people just off the French coast overturns.

File photo of a French Police officer looking out over a beach near Wimereux in FranceImage source, PA Media

Four migrants trying to cross the Channel have died in French waters, according to the AFP news agency.

Around 70 people were trying to get into a small boat attempting to launch from a beach when it overturned in the early hours of Sunday morning, French media reports said.

Dozens were pulled from the water during overnight rescue efforts in Wimereux, to the south of Calais.

Local authorities have said the four dead were Iraqi and Syrian people.

One other person was seriously injured in the incident and transferred to a hospital in nearby Boulogne-sur-Mer.

According to AFP, people got into trouble almost immediately after the boat departed the French coast for England at around 02:00 local time (01:00 GMT).

Dozens were trying to board the vessel and “found themselves in difficulty at sea to reach the boat”, a local official told the news agency.

Around 50 firefighters and several police vehicles were deployed to help, according to La Void du Nord – a regional paper covering news in northern France.

Dozens of survivors were taken to a local community centre to be cared for, the paper reports.

The UK Coastguard had no involvement as the incident occurred in French waters very close to the beach near Wimereux.

The deaths come one day after the first small boat crossing of the year was recorded.

Previously there were 26 days of no crossings to the UK recorded up until 11 January, which the Home Office says was due to poor weather conditions.

The provisional annual total for 2023 – 29,437 – is down on the record 45,774 crossings recorded for the whole of 2022.

But last year’s total is still the second highest annual number of crossings on record, above the figure for 28,526 recorded in 2021.

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