At least 27 people lost their lives: – Will not let the English Channel become a cemetery

At least 27 people died when a boat full of migrants sank in the English Channel. – We will not allow the canal to become a cemetery, says Emmanuel Macron.

The accident is the deadliest that has hit the busy migrant route between France and the UK since it was launched on a large scale in 2018, according to the news agency AFP.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday night that the death toll had risen to 31, but later the number was downgraded to 27 by the Interior Ministry.

Among the victims are five women and a young girl. Two survivors have been found, while at least one person is missing. The nationality of the victims is not yet known.

Macron promises to find those responsible for the tragedy and said he would not allow the English Channel to become a “cemetery”.

“It is Europe’s deepest values ​​- humanism, respect for the dignity of the individual – that are in mourning,” Macron said.

Fisherman sounded the alarm

In the last year, more and more people fleeing conflict or poverty have embarked on their journey from the north of France across the canal in small, fragile vessels. They hope to get asylum or better living conditions in the UK.

Figures from the British news agency PA show that 25,700 people have crossed the canal in small boats so far this year, three times as many as in the whole of 2020.

France’s Interior Ministry said on Wednesday afternoon that patrol vessels had found dead and unconscious people in the water after a fisherman sounded the alarm.

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Johnson terrified

The victims left Dunkirk east of Calais by boat on their way to England, and the death toll rose gradually after the first reports of the shipwreck.

“I am shocked, appalled and deeply saddened by the loss of life at sea,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson after leading a crisis meeting in his own government apparatus on the shipwreck.

Agree on closer cooperation

Macron on Wednesday called for an urgent meeting of European ministers facing the migration challenge, and Johnson called for closer cooperation with France against criminal human traffickers.

Following a telephone conversation between the two leaders, the countries have agreed to do more.

“Both leaders agreed that the tragic loss of human life today is a reminder that it is absolutely necessary to keep all opportunities open to stop these life-threatening crossings and break up the business model of the criminal gangs behind them,” a spokesman said. for the British Government.

Four arrested

French prosecutors have opened an investigation into negligent homicide following the tragedy. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said on Wednesday night that four people had been arrested on suspicion of being human traffickers directly connected to the shipwreck.

– The criminal nature of the smugglers who organize these crossings can not be condemned enough, tweets Dramanin, who advocates a “strong international reaction”.

– This disaster in the Channel is a tragedy, tweets French Prime Minister Jean Castex.

Three helicopters and three boats took part in the search for victims, according to French authorities.

– My thoughts are with the many missing and injured, victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their despair, says Castex, who will hold an emergency meeting with several ministers on Thursday morning.

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Fighting

The accident happens while Britain and France disagree on how to deal with the influx of migrants and refugees. The British have asked France to introduce stricter measures to prevent them from embarking on the journey.

According to French authorities, 7,800 people have been rescued in the English Channel this year. The number of people trying to get to England has doubled since August alone.

Before Wednesday’s tragedy, seven people had been confirmed or feared dead in various incidents so far this year.

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