Channel crossings – Boats and 400 migrants rescued in the Channel

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Several makeshift boats were wrecked in the English Channel on Wednesday. One migrant died and another was reported missing.

A migrant died, another was reported missing and more than 400 were rescued at sea on Wednesday following the sinking of several makeshift boats in the Channel, we learned from the Dunkirk prosecutor’s office and the maritime prefecture.

“Numerous” rescue operations were carried out in the Strait of Pas-de-Calais, beginning in the night of Tuesday to Wednesday and continuing “until the evening” Wednesday, indicates in a press release the maritime prefecture of the Channel and from the North Sea (Premar). “More than 400 people have been recovered. (…) Unfortunately, despite the means implemented, one person is reported missing and another has been declared dead, ”writes the Premar.

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“I was told that a person had died today as a result of the sinking of a ” small boat ”, which had been damaged and wrecked, in particular due to overloading,” he said. early in AFP the prosecutor of the Republic of Dunkirk, Sébastien Piève.

Investigation for “manslaughter”

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The deceased “is a priori an adult, we are talking about someone in their thirties”, and his boat was carrying “about forty people” according to the first elements of the investigation, “still to be verified”, said Sébastien Pive. The prosecution has opened an investigation for “manslaughter”, entrusted to the Border Police (PAF).

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The other castaways who were traveling with him “were recovered by the SNSM (national sea rescue company) and brought back to land, at Loon beach”, he added. According to the Premar, this castaway “was recovered unconscious. The rescuers did their best ”, but he was“ declared dead when he returned to the dock ”.

During another rescue operation, “the castaways recovered told rescuers that a person had fallen overboard off the Pas-de-Calais”, continues the maritime prefecture. But the searches undertaken did not make it possible to find it and were suspended at the end of the morning “for lack of new elements”.

Strong activity this week

Rescue operations have multiplied in recent days off the North and Pas-de-Calais. They required Wednesday the intervention of several ships of the Navy, stars of the maritime gendarmerie, various units of the SNSM (national company for sea rescue) or two helicopters of the French and Belgian armies.

“There is strong activity this week,” possibly driven by “relatively mild weather conditions,” observed the Dunkirk prosecutor. During the night of Monday to Tuesday, 292 migrants had been recovered at sea during seven separate operations.

According to the maritime prefect Philippe Dutrieux, some 15,400 migrants attempted the crossing between January 1 and August 31, of which 3,500 were “recovered in difficulty” in the strait and brought back to the French coast. In 2020, crossings and attempted crossings concerned some 9,500 people, compared to 2,300 in 2019 and 600 in 2018.

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