More than two dozen people drowned after the boat carrying them from France to Britain capsized in the English Channel on Wednesday. Families with small children were packed onto overcrowded dinghies as they attempted the treacherous journey, which ended in the worst loss of life on record involving migrants in the narrow stretch of water.
French officials were alerted to the bodies in the water by a fishing vessel. A joint French-British search and rescue mission saved dozens — but for many, it was too late.
French officials said women and a young girl are among the dead.
The tragedy comes as the number of migrants attempting the dangerous crossing has soared this year. Despite the danger, more than 25,000 migrants have made the crossing in 2021, including more who arrived in Britain on Wednesday.
“My thoughts and sympathies are, first of all, with the victims and their families. It’s an appalling thing that they have suffered, but I also want to say that this disaster underscores how dangerous it is to cross the channel in this way,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday.
France and Britain blame each other for not doing more to stop the flow of migrants in the busy shipping lane between northern France and southern England. Authorities on both sides of the channel had warned that it was only a matter of time before a tragedy like this was going to happen.