French police open manslaughter probe after migrant in his 20s drowned when boat carrying 36 people sank in the Channel – as more make dangerous crossing today
- Man was among 36 people aboard boat when it got into difficulty off Dunkirk
- He was pulled unconscious onto a lifeboat by crew from a passing cargo ship
- Man, said to be in 20s, airlifted to hospital in cardio-respiratory arrest but died
- Other people were hoisted aboard helicopter while more were rescued by boats
- This year more than 10,000 people have made the crossing aboard small boat
A manslaughter investigation is under way in France today after a migrant thought to be in his 20s died following a boat sinking in the English Channel.
The man, who has not been identified, was among 36 people including families aboard the boat when it got into difficulty about 13 miles off the coast of Dunkirk.
He was pulled unconscious onto a lifeboat by crew from a passing cargo ship at about 10am yesterday and airlifted to hospital in cardio-respiratory arrest but died.
Other people from the sinking vessel were hoisted aboard the helicopter while more were rescued by nearby fishing boats.
Charities said the death was a ‘sobering reminder’ of the struggles faced by refugees and should be a ‘wake-up’ call for Home Secretary Priti Patel.
This year more than 10,000 people have made the perilous crossing aboard small boats, with crossings in 2021 having already eclipsed last year’s annual total of 8,417.
Further arrivals were brought into Dover in Kent this morning on board a Border Force vessel as the number continued to rise amid the calm summer conditions.
Migrants who crossed from France arrive at Dover after being picked up in the Channel today
Migrants who made the crossing from France are brought into port at Dover in Kent today
A group of migrants are brought into Dover this morning on board a Border Force vessel
Migrants who made the crossing from France on a small boat are brought into Dover today
A Border Force worker bring a migrant to shore following a group’s arrival at Dover today
A border force source in France said: ‘The Elena cargo ship reported as many 40 migrants in the sea. They were all on a flimsy boat that was thought to have been provided by people smugglers, before it sank.
‘A search and rescue operation was launched, and it included the fishing vessels Nicolas Jérémy and Notre Dame de Boulogne, as well as a fast rescue boat from the Elena.’
Fresh Covid-19 cases at Napier Barracks site months after outbreak
Cases of Covid-19 have once again been identified at a military barracks being used to house asylum seekers, several months after a major outbreak at the camp.
Four dormitory blocks are in isolation after three cases of the virus were found at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent.
Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent
Nearly 200 people at the site contracted coronavirus earlier this year, leading to accusations that health advice had been ignored.
The site has been dogged by allegations of poor conditions in communal dormitories, with inspectors describing an isolation block as ‘unfit for habitation’.
The Home Office insisted again yesterday that it would be an ‘insult’ to suggest that Napier Barracks is not ‘adequate’ for asylum seekers.
New transfers to the barracks were halted after a High Court judge in June found the accommodation failed to meet a minimum standard, but resumed about two weeks ago..
The number of people at the site, which features dormitory-style accommodation, is around 230.
The department confirmed that those who tested positive have been removed from their dormitories but could not say if others are self-isolating.
Questions have also arisen in recent weeks about the future of the Ministry of Defence-owned site, with MPs and peers told it could be used to house asylum seekers for ‘another couple of years’.
French army and Belgian air force helicopters were also scrambled, along with the French navy ship Flamant.
‘The French helicopter NH90 hoisted a number of men on board, as did the other vessels involved,’ said the source.
‘One of the men was unconscious when he was transferred to the Flamant, and so he was rushed to hospital in Calais by helicopter, but he did not survive.’
The Dunkirk prosecutor’s office opened an investigation for manslaughter, endangering the lives of others, and people smuggling.
At least 155 people were intercepted by French authorities and returned to the continent yesterday.
The Home Office has yet to confirm how many people succeeded in crossing the Dover Strait to the UK yesterday but a number of boats are reported to have landed on Kent beaches, with more than 100 people thought to have arrived.
The man who died has not yet been publicly identified but the prosecutor’s office said he is aged between 25 and 30 and of African descent.
The prosecutor confirmed that 36 people including families had been aboard the boat when it got into difficulty in the Channel as it headed to the UK.
Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: ‘Conservative ministers must urgently get to grips of this situation, get a meaningful deal in place with France that stops organised crime gangs profiting from vulnerable people and address the factors that are driving people to take these incredibly dangerous routes.’
Steve Valdez-Symonds, refugee and migrant rights director at Amnesty International UK, said: ‘We are deeply saddened by this loss of life and our thoughts are with the family and friends who have lost their loved one.
‘The Home Office must take this as an urgent wake-up call.’
Lisa Doyle, director of advocacy and engagement at the Refugee Council, said: ‘This tragic loss of life is a sobering reminder that the odds are stacked against ordinary men, women and children, who are desperately struggling for safety and protection.’
And the Home Office’s clandestine channel threat commander Dan O’Mahoney said: ‘This loss of life is a tragedy and we are providing support to our French counterparts who are leading the response.
‘This underlines the terrible dangers of small boat crossings and why we must work together with the French to prevent callous criminals exploiting vulnerable people.’
Migrants who made the crossing from France are brought into port on the Kent coast today
Migrants are brought into Dover in Kent this morning onboard a UK Border Force vessel
A migrant is brought to shore after a group arrived at Dover on a Border Force vessel today
A migrant who made the crossing from France is disembarked after being picked up today
Migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a Border Force vessel this morning
The Channel crisis has previously claimed numerous lives.
In October last year Rasoul Iran-Nejad and his wife Shiva Mohammad Panahi, both 35, drowned on the French side of the Channel along with their three young children.
Their 15-month-old son Artin was reported missing following the tragedy and it was not until June this year that police confirmed a body found on the Norwegian coast was that of the young boy.
Yesterday saw more than 100 arrivals – but figures have not yet been officially confirmed.
Incidents yesterday included a black inflatable boat landing on Hythe beach in Kent. Around 20 young men reached the shore in front of bemused day trippers and beachgoers
Police outside the Hythe Imperial Hotel in Kent yesterday after 20 migrants landed nearby
In a separate incident, a group of around 12 migrants wearing life jackets were seen crammed on to a small boat in the English Channel on Wednesday before they were rescued
Incidents included a black inflatable boat landing on Hythe beach, 12 miles west of Dover.
The boat arrived directly in front of Hythe Imperial Hotel on the seafront at around noon.
Around 20 young men reached the shore in front of bemused day trippers and beachgoers. One arrival gave a ‘thumbs up’ sign to an on-looking photographer as he arrived.
Meanwhile in Dover, officials used a stretcher to carry one woman from a berthed Border Force vessel to land.
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