Migrant dead and another fighting for life after boat sinks in Channel

The coastguard was alerted to a boat with more than 60 passengers on board in difficulty on Thursday night.

A migrant has died while another is in a critical condition after a boat sank in the English Channel, the French national coastguard has said.

The coastguard was alerted to a boat with more than 60 passengers thought to be migrants on board in difficulty around 8km (five miles) off the northern French coast on Thursday night.

A rescue ship arrived in under 30 minutes and found one of the boat’s tubes was deflated and people in the water, the agency said.

The first passengers were rescued at about 1.15am local time (0015 GMT), with 66 people taken to safety in two other recovery vessels an hour later.

Two of the rescued migrants were found unconscious, with one in a life-threatening condition evacuated by helicopter to a Calais hospital.

The other could not be resuscitated.

Their fellow passengers were taken to Calais for treatment and the coastguard said sea and air searches would continue.

Government minister Andrew Griffith said the confirmation of another migrant death in the English Channel showed why the crossing was “not a safe route” and why Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was “cracking down on the terrible trade of people traffickers”.

Reacting to the incident on Sky News, Mr Griffith said: “Well, we are just hearing it now, but all of these are tragic stories.

“It shows once again the importance of cracking down on the terrible trade of people traffickers in the Channel.

“It is not a safe route, it is not a safe crossing. People shouldn’t need to do that.

“It is why it is really important that the Government is taking action through things like the Illegal Migration Bill (sic), through the proposals around Rwanda that we debated in Parliament earlier this year, to absolutely remove the incentive, break the economic model of people smugglers, so that we can stop this terrible trade.”

Enver Solomon, chief executive officer of the Refugee Council, said: “This is yet another terrible and avoidable tragedy. Our thoughts are with the victim, the survivors and their loved ones.

“These appalling deaths are becoming too common and there is an urgent need to put in place safe routes so people don’t have to take dangerous journeys across the world’s busiest shipping lane.

“Instead, the Government is pushing ahead with its unworkable and unprincipled Rwanda plan as well as shutting down existing safe ways to get to the UK.

“People flee persecution and violence out of desperation, to find safety and protect their families. The Government must take action now and respond in a compassionate way to prevent future tragedies and protect human life.”

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