Search for migrants launched as empty dingy is found at Kent beach

An “extensive search” is underway after an empty inflatable boat thought to be used by migrants was found on a beach in Kent.

The coastguard team launched the operation amid heightened concerns over migrants attempting to cross the Channel.

A search was carried out at Dungeness at 8.10am on Monday.

The coastguard said it carried out a search of the area due to "concern there could be maritime casualties" but none had been found.

A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: "HM Coastguard has been co-ordinating a search at Dungeness in Kent after an empty RHIB (rigid-hulled inflatable boat) was found on the shore.

"Dungeness Coastguard Rescue Team led the beach search and Kent Police has been informed.

"Following an extensive search of the area, HM Coastguard was satisfied that there were no maritime casualties and the search team was stood down."​

The Border Force has been approached for comment.

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11 migrants rescued from a dinghy in the English Channel

Six Iranian men were found on a beach in Kingsdown, near Deal in Kent, on December 30 with a small boat.

Around 60 migrants are believed to have come ashore between December 23 and December 30 but reports from charities and refugees in Calais suggest the figures could be higher.

The Mail on Sunday reports that 66 migrants made it to Britain on Christmas Day alone.

Last month Home Secretary Sajid Javid declared a "major incident" over the number of migrants trying to cross the Channel to reach the UK.

Of the 504 migrants seeking to cross the English Channel in 2018, 276 managed to get to British waters and coasts, and 228 were intercepted by the French authorities.

Most of the people were Iranian, according to French interior ministry.