Migrant crossings: Record 853 people cross English Channel in single day as three die on northern French coast

·3-min read

A record 853 migrants crossed the English Channel heading for the UK on small boats in a single day, the Home Office has said.

It comes after one person from Eritrea was fatally struck by a train and at least two bodies were recovered from the shoreline in northern France this week.

Several more were feared to have been lost at sea.

On Friday, the Home Office confirmed that UK authorities had to rescue or intercept 853 people from 25 incidents on Wednesday, which marks a new daily record for the current crisis.

The arrival tally eclipses the previous daily record of 828 set in August, according to data compiled by the PA news agency.

More than 21,000 migrants have made the crossing to the UK so far this year - more than double the total for the whole of 2020.

In 2019, Home Secretary Priti Patel promised to make migrant crossings an "infrequent phenomenon" by spring 2020 and then pledged in August last year to "make this route unviable".

During this time, the Government has agreed to pay France millions of pounds to increase security on its northern coast.

Campaigners and aid charities have repeatedly called on ministers to overhaul the asylum system in light of the soaring numbers.

It comes as from Monday night to Wednesday night this week, more than 1,000 people were picked up off France's coast during dozens of rescue operations by French maritime vessels backed up by helicopters.

Many hundreds of people quickly ran into trouble in the waters between northern France and Britain.

The Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea said one person was found dead on the beach at Wissant, near Calais, on Thursday morning after the discovery of a boat filled with water.

Two other people, who were found with them suffering from hypothermia, were treated by emergency services and taken to hospital.

Separately, another person died attempting the crossing on Wednesday, according to French authorities, who had carried out a rescue mission in the Strait of Pas-de-Calais.

It is believed they were unconscious when they were pulled from the water and pronounced dead as rescuers returned to shore, while another person has been reported as missing.

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Meanwhile, the train that killed the person from Eritrea on Thursday night was travelling on a rail line in Calais that migrants often use as a footpath, authorities said.

Another Eritrean was critically injured and two others were slightly injured.

They were among a group of migrants walking along the tracks in heavy rain and after dark, making it hard for the train driver to see them and for them to see the train, Franck Dhersin, a regional vice president for transportation, told French broadcaster BFM-TV.

Two men - both Somali nationals - were rescued off the Essex coast near Harwich on 25 October and searches for any possible remaining survivors have now been called off.

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