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Pregnant women and three children among 27 drowned in Channel | Immigration and asylum




Pregnant women and three children were among 27 people, mostly Kurds from Iraq or Iran, who drowned trying to cross the Channel with a inflatable boat, French authorities said.

Two male survivors, an Iraqi and a Somali, were being treated for exhaustion and hypothermia at a hospital in Calais. A criminal investigation has been opened by the public prosecutor in Lille, with four men suspected of direct involvement in the passage attempt being arrested on Wednesday, and a fifth arrested early Thursday morning.

The bodies were brought to the port of Calais by boat and helicopter during the evening, where volunteers with local migrant aid associations lit candles and held up placards reading How many more? as the International Maritime Organization described the tragedy as the biggest loss of life on the Channel since it began keeping records in 2014.

The Lille public prosecutor’s office has confirmed that 17 men, seven women and three teenagers, two boys and a girl, died in the accident. Examinations are being carried out this morning, a spokesman said. He said the survivors’ lives were not in danger.

French Interior Minister Grald Darmanin told RTL radio that the fifth suspect had driven a car with German license plates and bought inflatable boats in Germany. He said 1,500 suspected human smugglers had been arrested in France since the beginning of the year.

The main responsibility for this situation lies with the smugglers, Darman said, describing them as mafia organizations in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Britain, adding: France and Britain must work together. We may not be the only countries that will fight these smugglers.

Darmanin also renewed his criticism of British refugee policies. France deports about 20,000 illegal immigrants a year, he said. Britain manages 6,000 about four times less than France, despite the fact that the UK receives about half as many illegal immigrants. The UK does not handle illegal migration well.

French media reported that the inflatable boat, with at least 29 people on board, was believed to have set off from Loon-Plage near Dunkirk and that they had most likely camped in the dunes near Grande-Synthe, the location of several migrant camps. The largest, the home of about 1,500 people, was dismantled last week.

The winds were light and the sea was calm at the time, prompting unconfirmed reports in some media, including the newspaper La Voix du Nord, that the ship had either been hit by a container ship in one of the busiest transport lanes in world or was folded under its weight. passengers, perhaps after hitting a larger ship.

The first alarm went off around 14:00 from a French fishing boat which spotted bodies in the water off the coast of Calais, with French maritime rescue services arriving at the scene shortly afterwards. The boat was found largely deflated but was still sailing, Bernard Barron, head of the lifeboat service in Calais, told reporters. People were pulled out of the water, where the temperature is estimated to be 17 degrees Celsius, he said.

The head of the Dunkirk lifeboat service, Alain Ledaguenel, said the disaster was predictable. It had to happen, and it did, he said. We know that the means available for rescue from the sea are insufficient.

French police said Thursday morning they had come to the aid of 20 people Wednesday night. Their boat was overloaded and began to plunge rapidly into the water, forcing its passengers to return to the beach, according to a Twitter post. The police immediately went to their aid.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex was holding a crisis meeting on Thursday with six cabinet colleagues, including Darman, Justice Minister Dupond-Moretti, Maritime Minister Annick Girardin, Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari and Foreign Minister Jean. -Yves Le Drian.

Elyse Palace said in a statement Thursday that Emmanuel Macron had informed Boris Johnson in a phone call that he expected full co-operation from Britain and [to] stop instrumentalizing a dramatic situation for political purposes.

The French President insisted on the need to act with dignity and respect the spirit of effective cooperation in relation to human lives. The two countries’ interior ministers will discuss the issue later in the day, the statement said.




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