Search for missing migrant who ‘fell overboard’ in English Channel abandoned

Rescue teams call off search for migrant reported missing after scouring busy shipping lanes for 24 hours

Search and rescue teams have called off a search for a missing migrant in the English Channel
Search and rescue teams have called off a search for a missing migrant in the English Channel

The search for a missing migrant who is thought to have fallen from a small boat as she tried to cross to the English Channel has been called off.

A cargo vessel contacted the Coastguard to report a number of people in a small vessel around 27 miles (43.5km) off North Foreland, Kent, at around 1.15pm on Friday.

Ramsgate RNLI Lifeboat was sent to help and the crew were told on arrival that three people who were wearing buoyancy aids had entered the water and were missing.

Two of the missing migrants were found, but a woman remained unaccounted for - with the search for her called off at 2pm on Saturday.

A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: "The search for a missing person in the Channel has been terminated pending further information.

"A thorough and extensive air and sea search was carried out for the missing person, involving UK, French and Belgian coastguards, with nothing found."

Lifeboats from Margate and Dover as well as Coastguard search-and-rescue helicopters assisted in the search before it was paused due to poor weather at around 2am on Saturday.

Shipping vessels were asked over broadcasts to keep an eye out for the woman, and at first light the search, co-ordinated by the Belgian coastguard, resumed before it was ended a number of hours later.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of this woman at this terrible time.

"The Home Office will continue to liaise with other agencies as the investigation into this incident continues.

"Crossing the Channel in a small boat is a huge risk. The criminal gangs who perpetuate this are ruthless and do not care about loss of life.

"We thank all the agencies at home and abroad who led the rescue attempt."

It is understood 19 people from Iraq and Iran were rescued as part of the incident, including four children. They were taken to the shore, where they were met by Border Force and Kent Police.

It follows the rescue of 30 migrants from four small boats, including a kayak, at around 4am on Friday as they also attempted to cross the Channel.

Calais 2018: The current living conditions for displaced people in Calais

Dr Lisa Doyle, director of advocacy at the Refugee Council, said: "We continue our call on government to help more people who are in utterly desperate situations and need our support.

"We need more safe and regular routes for travel so that people who have lost everything are not forced to risk their lives on treacherous journeys to find safety.

"A commitment to more resettlement places for refugees beyond 2021 would be an important step, as would widening the overly restrictive rules around which family members can join refugees who are already in the UK."

The National Crime Agency said officers are working with Kent Police and Home Office Immigration Enforcement partners to identify the circumstances surrounding the crossing.

A spokesman added: "There are significant risks associated to crossing the Channel in small boats and our priority is to prevent this.

"We will continue to pursue anybody in the UK or overseas who seeks to profit from exploiting vulnerable migrants by facilitating these crossings, including those who provide vessels and other equipment."

PA

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in