Close to 40 migrants rescued from sinking boat as Channel crossings continue

·2-min read
Dungeness and Hastings Lifeboats carrying groups of people thought to be migrants arrive in to Dungeness, Kent, following small boat incidents in the Channel (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)
Dungeness and Hastings Lifeboats carrying groups of people thought to be migrants arrive in to Dungeness, Kent, following small boat incidents in the Channel (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)

Nearly 40 migrants were rescued from the Channel after their boat sank off the Kent coast.

Some were in the water for almost an hour on Thursday after the dinghy rapidly deflated in UK waters at around 6.17am.

The Coastguard launched a search and rescue operation, working alongside the RNLI, Royal Navy, Border Force and police.

By around 7.07am, all 38 migrants who ended up in the water had been rescued. They were all checked, found to be in a safe and stable condition and were then taken to Dover for processing. No deaths were reported, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

It is not known whether any of those rescued were children.

The Coastguard said it had been “co-ordinating a search and rescue response to an incident involving small boats off Kent” and sent a helicopter from Lydd as well as a plane, lifeboats and patrol boats.

Last month, Government officials said it was remarkable there had not been any serious incidents, such as drownings, so far this year as the average number of people per boat rose to 44, compared to 28 in 2021.

Thursday was another busy day for arrivals amid breezy and then calm and sunny conditions, with a steady stream of crossings continuing as the total for 2022 to date edged closer to 30,000.

Large groups of people were later pictured being brought to Dungeness on two lifeboats, with crews seen carrying young children – including some wearing life jackets – to safety. The arrivals, some wrapped in blankets, then formed a line along the beach while they waited to be processed.

The latest crossings come as government figures showed more migrants have made the journey across the Channel to the UK so far this year than in the whole of 2021.

Some 538 made the journey in 11 boats on Tuesday, according to the MoD, taking the provisional total for the year to 29,099. Last year there were 28,526.

No crossings were recorded on Wednesday.