Record 40 migrants including two children are rescued from the English Channel as boat gangs attempt to capitalise on Christmas drop in patrols
- Authorities intercepted five boats attempting to cross the Channel yesterday
- The engine on one boat which was carrying nine migrants failed near Calais
- A girl was among eight people who landed in Folkestone, Kent at around 2.40am
- A child was one of 13 people on a dingy helped by the Border Force near Deal
Authorities rescued 40 people including two children from the English Channel yesterday after five groups of migrants attempted to cross into the UK from France on small vessels.
One boat carrying nine people suffered an engine failure shortly after leaving France. Fortunately the migrants were rescued by French authorities.
The Home Office confirmed that five groups of migrants, mostly Iraqi, Iranian and Afghani, arrived in the country.
French authorities intercepted this rubber dinghy off the coast of Calais carrying nine migrants after the engine on their boat failed in an bid to cross the Channel. In total 40 migrants made it from France to the UK under the cover of darkness
One group of eight migrants, including a young girl arrived in Folkestone, Kent at around 2.40am.
Border Force officials spotted a dinghy off the coast of Deal, Kent shortly before 7am carrying 13 people including a child.
A Border Force cutter was sent to the Channel to intercept a dingy carrying seven men and a woman at around 5.50am.
The migrants were offered medical attention before being interviewed by immigration officials.
Officials said the children will be placed in the care of social services.
Sources told the Daily Telegraph it was believed trafficking gangs were hoping to capitalise on an expected drop in the number of border patrols taking place over the Christmas period.
In another incident in French waters, nine migrants were rescued and are now in the UK after the engine of the vessel they were travelling in failed.
They have been transferred to the Coastguard to be assessed.
Border Force officials are being assisted by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency after being called to an incident in the Channel before 9.20am involving two people in a small boat travelling towards the UK.
All 40 people are now in the UK, the Home Office said.
Criminal gangs have been smuggling migrants across the Channel in dinghies such as this Zodiac, pictured earlier this month in Dover, Kent. Six people made it into the UK in this boat
A spokeswoman said: ‘Border Force has intercepted a number of boats containing migrants attempting to cross the Channel overnight and this morning, and has deployed resources to deal with these incidents.
‘The evidence shows there is organised criminal gang activity behind illegal migration attempts by small boats across the Channel.
‘We are working closely with the French and law enforcement partners to target these gangs, who exploit vulnerable people and put lives at risk.’
The Christmas Day crossings follow a number of migrant rescues in recent months involving people trying to travel across the Channel to Britain.
One group of migrants was found in a rowing boat about two miles from Dover.
In a statement, HM Coastguard said: ‘[We are] committed to safeguarding life around the seas and coastal areas of this country.
‘We are only concerned with preservation of life, rescuing those in trouble and bringing them safely back to shore, where they will be handed over to the relevant partner emergency services or authorities.’
It comes as more than 150 migrants have been plucked from the English Channel trying to reach Britain since the start of November.
Most of those held by police crossing the world’s busiest shipping lane from France since November have claimed to be Iranian.
It emerged last month that people smugglers are charging migrants up to £13,000 each to cross the Channel by inflatable dinghy.
One family of would-be asylum seekers was charged £40,000 for the dangerous night-time sea crossing.
So-called ‘agents’ have already charged families to reach the French coast. Many fly from Iran to countries such as Serbia or Turkey, before being smuggled across borders to make overland journeys across Europe.
People traffickers then demand a further fee to get them to British soil. Individuals pay as much as £13,300 a head (15,000 euros) to board rubber dinghies for the freezing night journey.
MP’s have warned that lives will be lost without urgent action.