Six Afghanistan nationals dead in English Channel migrant boat wreck

Photo: Reuters

French authorities have confirmed the identities of the six individuals who lost their lives in a boat sinking incident while attempting to cross the English Channel in pursuit of reaching the United Kingdom. All victims have been identified as Afghanistan nationals, according to French officials.

One of the casualties passed away after being airlifted to a Calais hospital, while the remaining five were declared deceased upon their rescue by a French lifeboat.

Survivors of the incident were rescued by both French and British vessels, with operations spanning both sides of the Channel, media reports said. The rescue effort encompassed helicopters, warships, and dedicated search-and-rescue boats.

Amid the prompt response to the emergency, nearly 60 individuals were safely rescued, as reported by a French police command overseeing the Channel region.

Philippe Sabatier, Deputy Public Prosecutor of Boulogne city, said that the six lives lost were Afghan men, all presumed to be in their 30s. Other passengers aboard the vessel were predominantly Afghanistan nationals, with a few Sudanese individuals, primarily adults accompanied by some minors.

Despite efforts to save them, five of the deceased were recovered by the French search-and-rescue vessel “Notre Dame du Risban” but could not be revived.

“Regrettably, both the individual transported to the Calais hospital and the five individuals received by the Notre Dame du Risban have been pronounced dead,” stated a French police release.

This incident serves as the latest grim reminder of the perils faced by asylum seekers who undertake perilous journeys across the English Channel on makeshift boats.

Since 2018, over 100,000 individuals have embarked on this crossing, but multiple fatal incidents, including sinkings, have underscored the dangers of the treacherous 35-kilometer strait. Among the most tragic incidents, 27 lives were lost in November 2021 when a dinghy capsized.

The most recent data indicates that an additional 343 people crossed the Channel on Friday alone, contributing to a yearly total exceeding 16,000 individuals, with an average of around 57 passengers per boat.