Three migrants missing, feared dead, after attempted Channel crossing

Tim Loughton, a member of the home affairs committee, said: “This must be a strong warning that this is not the right way to cross the Channel. It is a life and death experience and people should not be doing it.”

Natalie Elphicke, the Dover MP, said: “I have long been warning of the risk of more deaths this winter. This latest incident underlines the dangers of these illegal journeys. That’s why the French must do more to stop boats leaving their coast in the first place in order to save lives.”

It is understood the rescue began at 4pm on Monday with Border Force, HM Coastguard and RNLI deployed through to Tuesday on a search for the migrants.

A twin-engined HM Coastguard Beech King plane carried out sweeps of the search site in the North Sea between Felixstowe and Ostend, in Belgium, and a “specialist” branch of Border Force in Dover is understood to have driven to Harwich to aid the search on Monday.

A Home Office spokesman said: “While the investigation into this incident continues, it is a reminder of the extreme dangers of crossing the Channel in small boats and the callous disregard for life shown by the criminal gangs. We are determined to do everything we can to prevent people dying in the Channel.”

Bad weather has hampered attempts by migrants to cross the Channel since the weekend before last, when more than 800 reached the UK in three days. There is increasing desperation to get to Britain before the winter closes in, with 2,500 people crossing so far in October – five times the rate for the whole of the same month last year.

More than 19,500 people have crossed the Channel so far this year, compared with 8,410 for the whole of 2020.

Read More: Three migrants missing, feared dead, after attempted Channel crossing

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