Five people have been arrested after 27 people lost their lives in the ‘deadliest’ incident on the Channel crossing.
The migrants had been trying to reach the UK when their inflatable dinghy sank near Calais yesterday, November 24, shortly after 2pm.
France’s interior minister Gerald Darmanin confirmed that five women and a girl were among the victims, also describing the boat as ‘very frail’ and ‘like a pool you blow up in your garden’.
Five unnamed people have since been arrested in connection with the incident, accused of attempting to smuggle the migrants across the Channel, Darmanin told French radio, as per The Independent.
While 26 people were rescued yesterday, one UK patrol boat, one French lifeboat and three helicopters have been involved in further search and rescue efforts.
French maritime officials have described it as the worst-ever incident in the English Channel, with the previous record believed to be a family of five who died trying to cross the Channel in October last year.
President Emmanuel Macron said ‘everything will be done to find and condemn those responsible’ and ‘France will not let the Channel become a graveyard’, Sky News reports.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who chaired an emergency COBRA meeting in the wake of the incident, also said he was ‘shocked, appalled and deeply saddened’ and that human traffickers were ‘literally getting away with murder’.
However, Franck Dhersin, vice president of transport for the northern Hauts-de-France region, accused the UK government of not doing enough in its action against human trafficking. ‘In France what do we do? We arrest the smugglers,’ he said.
‘To fight them, there’s only one way – we need to stop the organisations, you need to arrest the mafia chiefs. And the mafia chiefs live in London… they live in London peacefully, in beautiful villas, they earn hundreds of millions of euros every year, and they reinvest that money in the city. And so it’s very easy for the tax authorities to find them.’
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