Six dead as migrant boat capsizes in Channel

 Six people died after a migrant boat trying to cross the Channel from France capsized early on Saturday, with another two people possibly missing, French authorities said.

Nearly 60 migrants were saved by French and UK rescue boats and brought to French or British shores, and search and rescue operations were ongoing, the maritime prefecture said.

Local mayor Franck Dhersin said a vast rescue operation had been launched around 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) as dozens of migrant boats tried to make the crossing at the same time.

“The boat struggled to spread the current. There were 45 to 50 people on board, I believe. We stayed next to them for one or two hours, maybe more. At one point there were people who wanted to get off – at first, there were only 10 but in the end, we recovered 22 people,” said Jean Pierre Finot, Head of the Gravelines Branch of the French National Sea Rescue Society.

“They were in trouble – there was the problem of seasickness and then also, the boats are quite simply overloaded. They overload the boats and so the boats can no longer move forward. The last boat where we intervened was too full,” Finot added.

The Channel between France and Britain is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and currents are strong, making the crossing on small boats dangerous.

People smugglers typically overload rickety dinghies, leaving them barely afloat and at risk of being lashed by the waves as they try to reach British shores.