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25th Nov 2021

At least 27 people dead in UK-France Channel tragedy

Sarah McKenna Barry

A manslaughter probe into the tragedy has been opened.

At least 27 people have died in the UK Channel after the boat they were travelling on sank off the coast of northern France, BBC News reports.

The death of these migrants is the single worst loss of life the Channel has seen since at least 2018.

The tragic incident took place yesterday, and French officials sent three helicopters to search the waters and recover bodies and survivors after a fisherman sounded the alarm.

A manslaughter probe has since been opened.

French police say that there were 50 people on board the vessel while France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has said that five women and one young girl are among the dead.

Mr Darmanin also stated that four traffickers that had been accused of being linked to the boat that sank have since been arrested.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has called for a meeting of European ministers to discuss the tragedy.

Mr Macron said: “It is Europe’s deepest values – humanism, respect for the dignity of each person – that are in mourning.”

A crisis meeting will soon take place in the office of French Prime Minister Jean Castex.

British PM Boris Johnson said that he was “shocked, appalled and deeply saddened by the loss of life at sea”. Later, a Downing Street spokesperson said that Johnson and Macron have “agreed on the urgency of stepping up joint efforts to prevent these deadly crossings and to do everything possible to stop the gangs responsible for putting people’s lives at risk.”

The statement continued: “They underlined the importance of close working with neighbours in Belgium and the Netherlands as well as partners across the continent if we are to tackle the problem effectively before people reach the French coast.”

In a post on social media, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin described the tragedy as “truly shocking”, and sent his condolences to the victims and their families.