'Over 20 people drown' while trying to cross Channel in inflatable dinghy - report 5 days ago

'Over 20 people drown' while trying to cross Channel in inflatable dinghy - report

The number of victims has not yet been officially confirmed

Over 20 migrants are said to have drowned while attempting to cross the English Channel in an inflatable dinghy.

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Initial reports suggested the death toll was around five but police have since said in a statement that "over 20" people had died after a boat sank off the northern port of Calais.

At the time of writing, it has been reported by many outlets that at least 27 people have lost their lives.

Three helicopters and three boats are said to be involved in searches.

Migrants were trying to reach British shores in a small, inflatable boat when a local fisherman sounded the alarm to signal that he had seen "15 people floating motionless" near the port of Calais, Reuters reported.

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AFP said the disaster is the worst single loss of life recorded in recent times from migrant crossings in the Channel.

It comes as tensions continue to flare between the UK and Paris over the record numbers of people crossing, with French authorities claiming 31,500 people attempted to leave for Britain since the start of the year. Some 7,800 people have been rescued at sea.

Seven people have been confirmed dead or are still missing feared drowned after various incidents this year.

French news outlet BFM TV initially reported that five people had drowned, though a police source told Reuters that they were still waiting for paramedics to confirm the death toll.

Minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted: "Strong emotion in the face of the tragedy of several deaths due to the capsizing of a migrant boat in the English Channel."

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Prime Minister Jean Castex tweeted: "The disaster in the Channel is a tragedy. My thoughts are with the many missing and injured, victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their distress and misery."

This story is developing.

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