AAt least five migrants died on Wednesday trying to cross the Channel from France to England when their boat sank off the coast of the northern port of Calais, French authorities said.
The French Interior Ministry said in a statement that French patrol boats found five bodies and five other people unconscious in the water after a fisherman sounded the alarm over the crash.
Three helicopters and three boats were deployed to help with the search, local authorities said.
The French Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, who goes to the scene, wrote on Twitter that “many people” had died in the incident, adding that “the criminal nature of the smugglers who organize these crossings cannot be pretty doomed “.
The disaster, the worst loss of life in recent times due to migrant crossings in the English Channel, comes as tensions rise between London and Paris over record numbers of people crossing, Britain urging France to take tougher measures to prevent them from making the trip.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the sinking was a “tragedy”.
“My thoughts are with the many missing and injured, victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their distress and injuries,” he said.
It comes as Channel migrant smugglers maximize their profits by setting out to sea with larger boats that can carry up to 90 people, fearing that France will still take a stricter approach.
A group of more than 40 migrants were photographed on Tuesday carrying a 30-foot rubber dinghy on the northern coast of France near Wimereux as French police appeared to watch and do nothing.
The migrants, including at least five children, were seen entering the water in the early hours of the morning. A few yards away was a French police car with at least two officers inside who appeared to be doing nothing despite the French government promising that forces would be in action “night and day” to stop the crossings. at the level.
Commenting on the situation, Conservative Dover MP Natalie Elphicke said the French “are playing us for fools”.
According to French authorities, 31,500 people have tried to leave for Britain since the start of the year and 7,800 people have been rescued at sea, figures which have doubled since August.
Seven people have been confirmed dead or still missing and fear drowning after various incidents this year.
Boris Johnson is under intense pressure to reduce the number of crosses.
According to British authorities, more than 25,000 people have now arrived illegally this year, already triple the figure recorded in 2020.
The problem has been added to mounting post-Brexit tensions between Britain and France, with a dispute over fishing rights still unresolved.