French boats rescue nearly 140 trying to cross to UK

AFP , Sunday 18 Feb 2024

Officials in northern France said Sunday rescue boats had saved nearly 140 people who got into difficulty while attempting the perilous Channel crossing to England this weekend.

File Photo: Volunteers of the National Sea Rescue Society lifeguards at sea, train on two rescue boats. AFP


In one incident Saturday, five people, including a four-month-old baby, had to be saved from drowning after their boat sank off Boulogne, officials in the Pas-de-Calais coastal region said.

Most of the people were saved in two major operations.

In one incident, coastguard officials rescued 57 people who had set off from Gravelines late Saturday after their vessel got into difficulty.

And a boat carrying 75 migrants had to be towed back to safety after they sent out a distress call.

In 2023, around 36,000 people risked the dangerous cross-Channel journey from the north coast of France to try to reach England illegally.

Those numbers are more than 30 percent lower than the previous year, according to figures released by French maritime authorities earlier this month. So far, they have recorded 12 deaths among those attempting the crossing.

In late January, Britain and France announced they would step up efforts to halt the crossings after figures showed more than 1,000 people had already made the journey that month.

The Channel, the stretch of water between France and England, is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

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