Eight suspected Iranian migrants rescued from dinghy off Kent coast

Men taken to Dover and handed over to immigration officials

Adam Forrest
Friday 23 November 2018 16:37 GMT
Migrants’ dinghy found off the coast of Kent

Eight suspected migrants travelling in an inflatable dinghy were rescued by Border Force patrol officers off the coast of Kent early on Friday morning.

All eight men told officials they were from Iran, according to Home Office.

There were checked over by ambulance staff, but did not require further medical help. A Home Office spokesperson said they would be interviewed by immigration officials.

It follows the rescue of 14 suspected migrants travelling in two inflatable dinghies off the coast of Kent on Thursday morning.

Each tiny dinghy contained seven people, and all 14 passengers also told patrol officers they were originally from Iran. They are suspected of attempting to enter the country illegally.

The first crowded vessel was spotted at 3.30am and was brought in to Dover by a patrol boat.

The second was seen around 8.45am by passengers on a passing ferry in the busy shipping lane of the English Channel. The migrants were reportedly wearing life jackets and blowing whistles for help.

One unnamed man travelling on a Danish ferry told Sky News: “The coastguard arrived within 10 minutes as they were clearly in trouble and in the shipping lane. They were shouting for help. It was heartbreaking to watch.”

The dinghies contained 13 men and one woman. It is not yet known whether any children were on board.

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“The Home Office say they have stepped up patrols in the South East, yet clearly not enough is being done,” said Charlie Elphicke, Tory MP for Dover and Deal.

“The numbers we are seeing are unprecedented and deeply concerning,” he added.

Earlier on Thursday, the French authorities said a helicopter and rescue ships saved 11 migrants whose boat was in distress off the coast of the French town of Wimereux. Four were taken to hospital with hypothermia and the others handed over to border police in Calais.

On Wednesday, two men from Fulham in London were jailed for immigration offences following an investigation by the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU).

Feim Vata, 32, and Xhemal Baco, 24, were arrested in October after there were discovered transporting illegal migrants from France in small inflatable boats, travelling across the English Channel at night onto the beaches close to Deal, Kent.

Last Sunday, nine people believed to be from Iran were rescued from inflatable dinghies off the coast at Folkestone. And last Wednesday, another three boats with suspected migrants were picked up off the south coast.

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