At Least 5 Die Trying to Cross English Channel, Including a Young Girl

By John Mercury April 24, 2024

At least five people died at sea off the coast of northern France on Tuesday during an attempt to cross the English Channel, as governments on both sides of the waterway struggle to deter migrants from making the dangerous voyage to Britain.

Those who died — a young girl, a woman and three men — were on an inflatable boat that was heavily overloaded with more than 100 people, according to the French authorities. The boat was one of several vessels that was spotted before dawn on Tuesday by the French Coast Guard near the town of Wimereux.

The deaths came just hours after the British Parliament passed highly contentious legislation to allow the deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda, a measure that the British authorities have presented as a way of discouraging people from attempting the hazardous English Channel crossings.

Jacques Billant, the prefect for the Pas-de-Calais area that includes Wimereux, said that the boat had departed with 112 people on board.

“This is unheard-of,” Mr. Billant told reporters in Wimereux.

The boat’s engine stopped several hundred meters from the coast and two people fell into the water, the French maritime authorities said in a statement. The Coast Guard dispatched several vessels and semirigid inflatable boats and were able to rescue those two people, the authorities said.


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