Migrant tragedy is biggest loss of life in Channel

Migrant tragedy is biggest loss of life in Channel
A French volunteer sea rescue organisation boat carrying bodies of migrants arrived at Calais harbour. Source: AFP
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Daily US Times: At least 27 people headed for the United Kingdom have drowned in the English Channel near Calais after their boat sank.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said it was the biggest single loss of life in the Channel since it began collecting data in 2014.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “appalled” by what happened, adding that his country would leave “no stone unturned” to stop human trafficking gangs.

France’s interior minister said that five women and a girl were among the dead.

Gerald Darmanin also said two people were rescued and one was missing. It was earlier reported 31 people had died, but the total was revised down overnight on Thursday.

Four people had been arrested near to the Belgian border, he added, saying: “We suspect that they were directly linked to this particular crossing.”

On Wednesday evening, French President Emmanuel Macron and UK PM Mr Johnson agreed to step up joint efforts to prevent the crossings and stop the gangs putting people’s lives at risk, Downing Street said.

On Wednesday, a fishing boat sounded the alarm afternoon after spotting several people at sea off the coast of France.

British and French authorities are conducting a rescue operation by air and sea to see if they can find anyone.

Mr Johnson said the deaths were a “disaster”, adding that it was vital to “break” the people trafficking gangs which, he said, were “literally getting away with murder”.

Speaking after chairing an emergency Cobra meeting, the prime minister said more needed to be done to stop criminals organising crossings.

“It also shows how vital it is that we now step up our efforts to break the business model of the gangsters who are sending people to sea in this way,” he said.

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