29 Feb 2024

One dead and two missing after English Channel crossing rescue

11:53 am on 29 February 2024
This photograph taken on January 14, 2024, on the beach of Wimereux, northern France, shows French military ship patrolling in the English Channel. Five migrants died on the night of 13 to 14 January 2024 near the beach of Wimereux (Pas-de-Calais) as they tried to reach a boat overboard in freezing water to cross the English Channel, the first fatal tragedy of 2024 off the French coast. (Photo by Bernard BARRON / AFP)

This photograph taken on 14 January 2024, on the beach of Wimereux, northern France, shows French military ship patrolling in the English Channel (file image). Photo: AFP / BERNARD BARRON

By Hugh Schofield & Lou Newton, BBC News

A woman has died and two people are missing after a migrant boat had to be rescued in the English Channel.

According to French maritime authorities, the boat had 50 migrants on board when it got into difficulty off the French coast on Wednesday (local time).

Passengers told rescuers three people had gone overboard.

The woman was recovered from the water but was unable to be resuscitated, the French maritime prefecture said. Two others could not be found.

Two French naval vessels and a helicopter were deployed.

The body was retrieved but two other people reported missing could not be located and are presumed dead, according to the French authorities.

The other passengers on board were taken to safety.

A spokesperson for the UK government confirmed they had been notified about the incident "involving a small boat in French waters".

"French authorities are leading the response and investigation. We will not be commenting further at this stage", they said.

It was one of several rescues that took place on Wednesday - a total of 180 people had been rescued throughout the day.

Approximately 10 groups of people have tried to make the journey since Tuesday evening.

One of the boats reportedly split in half but it was close enough to where it had set off that the people on board were able to get back to dry land.

Overall, the number of attempted crossing last year fell by a third compared with 2022, but nearly 30,000 migrants still reached the UK coast.

Home Office figures show that more than 2000 migrants have arrived in the UK so far this year.

This story was originally published by the BBC.