Migrant rescued swimming from France to Britain wearing flippers

Telegraph Reporters
Migrants being accompanied by border force - STEVE FINN PHOTOGRAPHY

A migrant was rescued this morning after trying to swim across the English Channel wearing flippers to get to the UK.

The unidentified migrant was discovered three miles off the coast of Calais with fins and using a buoy as a float to help.

He was spotted by the crew of a fishing boat at 6.30am who alerted French authorities. French border officials who rescued the migrant who was suffering from hypothermia. He was then handed over to the French border officials at the port of Calais.

Meanwhile, "up to 38 people" were caught attempting the crossing in small boats before midday, a witness said.

A statement by the Prefecture Maritime based in Calais, who released an image of the rescue, said authorities were notified that a fishing vessel "was in contact with a migrant equipped with fins and a buoy and tried to swim to England."

It comes as Border Force officers in the UK dealt with two more migrant crossing incidents.

It is understood three groups were discovered off the East Sussex and Kent coast in three small boats.

They were picked up by Border Force officers and taken to Dover in Kent.

Credit:  STEVE FINN

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman said: "HM Coastguard is committed to safeguarding life around the seas and coastal areas of this country.

"We are only concerned with preservation of life, rescuing those in trouble and bringing them safely back to shore, where they will be handed over to the relevant partner emergency services or authorities.

"We have been assisting Border Force with two incidents off the Kent coast this morning."

RNLI Hastings Lifeboat Station were also called to the incident.

More than 150 people have arrived in the UK since the end of May, with the number of suspected migrants intercepted by border force authorities in 2019 soaring to 511, according to Telegraph research, with dozens more collected by French officials.

In the whole of 2018, some 312 people reached the UK in small boats after crossing the Channel, with 227 more stopped by the French.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has been accused of not getting a grip on the situation as May saw more people crossing the Channel in small boats (140) than in December (138) when a ‘major incident’ was declared.

On May 31, Britain saw a record number of boats and people trying to enter the UK illegally, as some 74 people were intercepted in eight separate vessels.

A spokesperson from the Home Office said: “Anyone crossing the Channel in a small boat is taking a huge risk with their life and the lives of their children.

“Last week, the Home Secretary and the French Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner, agreed to continue to explore options to reinforce the efforts already being made.

“It is an established principle that those in need of protection should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach and since January more than 35 people who arrived illegally in the UK in small boats have been returned to Europe.”

The shortest distance across the English Channel is between Calais and Dover at 20.7 miles.