Tributes for migrants as France admits it should have prevented Channel tragedy

© Pascal Rossignol, Reuters

Tributes and demonstrations took place in France on Thursday for the 27 migrants who died exactly a year ago in a Channel boat disaster that France's interior minister admitted should have been prevented.

Several boats packed with rescuers and local elected figures took to sea off the coast of Dunkirk on Thursday to mark the anniversary of the most deadly migrant accident in the Channel on record.

They tossed wreaths into the water and paused to remember the 27 people, mostly from Iraq, who perished when their inflatable boat floundered overnight in the middle of the shipping channel between France and Britain.

"It's a tragedy that we were expecting and there will probably be others," said the head of the local branch of the SNSM lifeboat service, Alain Ledaguenel.

Elsewhere, a protest march organised by a local charity saw people walk from the centre of Dunkirk to the beach behind a banner reading "Your borders, our dead".

One of the marchers read out the names of the deceased while facing the water.

'Should have intervened'

Documents from a French investigation into the accident that have been reported in the media suggest that French and British sea rescue coordinators passed the buck as the boat sank.

In the first SOS calls, the boat appears to have been just inside French waters but drifting towards the British boundary, but neither side sent out a rescue boat, according to Le Monde newspaper.

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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