Dozens of Refugees, Migrants Die as Boat Sinks in English Channel

News Politics World

Thursday, 25 November, 2021

At least 27 people known to have drowned after their dinghy sank, as UK and France trade blame over disaster.

At least 27 refugees and asylum seekers have died trying to cross the English Channel after their dinghy deflated and sank in the worst disaster on record involving migrants in the sea separating France and the United Kingdom.

France had earlier said 31 people lost their lives, but the number was later revised down to 27, government officials said.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said French police had arrested four people suspected of being linked to the drowning, which he called “the biggest [migrant] tragedy that we have seen”. Two people were critically ill in hospital with severe hypothermia, he added, but the nationalities and identities of those on board were not known.

The London-based Times newspaper said one of the dead was an Afghan soldier who had worked with the British armed forces and whose family decided to risk the crossing because they had “waited so long for help” from the UK.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) called the incident the largest single loss of life in the Channel since it started collecting data in 2014.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex called the boat sinking a “tragedy”.