France rescues 72 migrants stranded in English Channel

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French maritime authorities said they had rescued 72 migrants in the English Channel on Sunday whose vessels ran into difficulties as they tried to reach the UK.

Early Sunday, the coastguard was alerted that several boats were in trouble off the coast of Calais.

One was picked up by a French patrol boat and the 38 people on board taken to Calais.

Meanwhile, 34 more migrants were rescued by a tugboat operated by the French navy and taken to Boulogne-sur-Mer, also on France’s Channel coast.

All the rescued migrants were in good health and were handed over to rescue services and the border police.

Since late 2018, the number of illegal Channel crossings has risen sharply as migrants try to reach Britain despite dangers linked to busy shipping traffic, strong currents and low water temperatures.

In 2020 alone, there were some 9,500 crossings or attempted crossings, according to the coastguard, more than four times the previous year’s number.

Six people died and three went missing trying to cross last year, compared to four dead in 2019.

(AFP)