UK: Boat carrying migrants sinks off English Coast, four dead

A small boat carrying around 40 migrants sunk off the southeastern coast of England in freezing temperatures, according to multiple reports on Wednesday. Subsequently, the British government confirmed the incident and said that four people were killed. British radio station LBC has earlier said that 43 people had been rescued and a small number had died. 

According to media reports, lifeboats, helicopters and rescue teams are working with the French and British navies to respond to the event. A government spokesperson, in a statement, said that “At 3:05 (GMT) today, authorities were alerted to an incident in the Channel concerning a migrant small boat in distress.”

It added, “After a coordinated search and rescue operation led by HM Coastguard, it is with regret that there have been four confirmed deaths as a result of this incident.” The spokesperson also said that an investigation is underway. 

On Wednesday, ambulances and emergency crews gathered on the quayside at the port of Dover to handle the sinking incident. According to Sky News, some of the migrants were transferred to a hospital in Kent’s Ashford town. 

Taking to Twitter, British interior minister Suella Braverman tweeted, “I am aware of a distressing incident in the Channel this morning and I am being kept constantly updated while agencies respond and urgently establish the full facts. My heartfelt thoughts are with all those involved.”

The sinking incident comes a day after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced plans to toughen the laws to stop the small boats crossing the Channel, including legislation to prevent migrants from remaining in the country, Reuters reported. 

In the last week, temperatures have plunged across Britain. Despite this, over 500 migrants have made the journey in small boats since the weekend alone. 

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