French police say 27 migrants drowned today (Wednesday) when their boat sank in the English Channel, en route from France to Britain. More immigrants were rescued alive and taken ashore. The mayor of the French town of Tatgam, near the canal, had earlier reported 24 migrants drowning to death and 26 others rescued.
Authorities in France said the disaster occurred in the afternoon off the coast of the city of Calais, which is visited by many migrants seeking to cross the canal and infiltrate Britain. The French police are having a hard time preventing the migrants’ infiltration attempts, and the issue is causing a lot of tension between London and Paris. This week, French police reported the arrest of 15 suspects in aiding smugglers through the canal.
According to authorities in France since the beginning of the year, 31,500 people have tried to infiltrate from it to Britain. 7,800 of them were rescued in the middle of the sea. The AFP news agency noted tonight that this is the worst incident of its kind in the English Channel, and that it does not remember such a high death toll in the overturning or sinking of an immigrant boat in the canal.
The Manche Canal is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and is known for strong currents that make navigation difficult. Small, crowded boats have a hard time coping with the conditions in the canal, and often capsize in the high waves.
In recent years, many cases have been reported of immigrants trying to infiltrate European countries and drowning in the middle of the sea on the way to their destination, especially in the Mediterranean. The immigrants set out on the perilous journey in crowded and rickety boats.