Death in English Channel: at least 4 people dead, 43 rescued after small boat capsizes crossing Channel
A major search and rescue operation is underway in the English Channel as there have been reports that a small migrant boat has capsized. It is thought that up to 50 people were on board the boat with at least four confirmed dead.
A government spokesperson said: “At 0305 today, authorities were alerted to an incident in the Channel concerning a migrant small boat in distress. After a coordinated search and rescue operation led by HM Coastguard, it is with regret that there have been four confirmed deaths as a result of this incident, investigations are ongoing and we will provide further information in due course.
“This is a truly tragic incident. Our thoughts are with the friends and families of all those who have lost their lives today.”
The incident is reported to have happened in the early hours of this morning (December 14), in the English Channel off the coast of Kent, near Dungeness. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said HM Coastguard is working with the RNLI, Royal Navy, Border Force, French navy and Kent Police to look for the boat, and an air ambulance has also been sent to the scene.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has given a statement in the Commons on the deaths but said it would be inappropriate to go into further detail, confirming that there is an ongoing search and rescue operation.
Braverman added there is a multi-agency response to the incident, including the Coast Guard, Border Force and even commercial fishing vessels and expressed her profound sadness and deepest sympathies for everyone affected.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak also addressed the situation on Prime Ministers Questions.
He said: “I am sure the whole house will share my sorrow at the capsizing of a small boat in the Channel in the early hours of this morning and the tragic loss of human life. Our hearts go out to all those affected and our tributes to those involved in the extensive rescue operation.”
The incident comes just hours after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised to bring in new laws to tackle illegal immigration.
He told MPs: "We have to stop the boats. And this government will do what must be done."