Local authorities said earlier that five migrants drowned, but the number is likely to increase because many of those rescued are in serious condition.
To avoid immigration in the English Channel, shops stop selling boats in France
Frank Dersen, mayor of Tetegem and vice-president of transport for the northern region of France, was the one to announce the deaths.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said he was on his way to the scene. He tweeted, “Powerful sympathy for the tragedy of the many deaths caused by the sinking of a migrant boat in the English Channel.”
Local authorities said two helicopters and three police or rescue boats were at the site.
Fisherman Nicholas Margol said he saw two small boats earlier on Wednesday, one with people on board and the other empty.
He said another fisherman called the rescue after seeing an empty boat and 15 people swimming motionless nearby, unconscious or dead.
He confirmed there were more boats this Wednesday because the weather was good. “But it’s cold,” Margul added.
Earlier on Wednesday, a group of more than 40 migrants was seen heading towards the UK on a boat.
The English Channel is one of the busiest shipping routes in the world and its currents are strong. Small boats are often at the mercy of the waves.
Although French police are blocking crossings more than in previous years, the measures have only partially stopped the flow of migrants wanting to reach the UK, in what has become one of the many sources of tension between Paris and London.
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