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Rescue effort launched after boat carrying around 40 migrants begins to sink in Channel

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A rescue operation has been launched after a boat carrying around 40 people began to sink in the English Channel.

The vessel is believed to have begun taking on water as it headed for the UK on Thursday morning.

One migrant has been airlifted to hospital from the Channel so far, and authorities in France say the rescue effort – involving French and Belgian air and sea units – is ongoing.

Searches started at around 10am after a cargo ship reported seeing the boat in difficulty, with some people overboard, off the coast of Dunkirk.

An unconscious person was taken aboard the cargo ship’s lifeboat, before being transferred on to a French Navy vessel and then airlifted to a hospital in Calais by a Belgian helicopter.

More on Migrant Crisis

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, following a small boat incident in the Channel earlier this morning. Picture date: Sunday June 6, 2021.
Image: More than 10,000 people, including children, have made the dangerous journey from France so far in 2021. File pic

They are thought to have suffered a cardio-respiratory arrest, French authorities said.

Several others were also hoisted aboard the helicopter as the migrant boat was sinking, while more were rescued by nearby fishing boats.

They were all transferred on to the French navy’s Flamant patrol boat, which headed for the port of Dunkirk.

Search and rescue operations remain under way in the Dover Strait, with a French navy helicopter continuing to scour the area.

Although, others are thought to have succeeded in reaching British shores, with reports of a beach landing in Kent.

Kent Police said they were called to assist the Border Force and HM Coastguard following a report of suspected migrants in Ramsgate at about 11.30am this morning.

Following days of bad weather in the Channel, lighter conditions on Thursday have seen a flurry of crossing attempts.

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a lifeboat following a small boat incident in the Channel earlier on Sunday. Picture date: Sunday July 4, 2021.
Image: It comes after French authorities intercepted at least 108 people trying to cross the Channel on Wednesday. File pic

The latest bids to reach the UK come after French authorities intercepted at least 108 people trying to cross the Channel on Wednesday, with one person having to be airlifted to hospital in Dunkirk.

The dangerous sea journey from France – made by more than 10,000 people including children so far in 2021, according to data from the PA news agency – has claimed many lives in the past.

Last week saw a record daily total when 482 migrants crossed in one day, on 5 August.

It beat the previous record set on 19 July, when 430 people made the crossing.

Among those trying to make the crossing were Rasoul Iran-Nejad and his wife Shiva Mohammad Panahi, who died along with their three children when their boat capsized on 27 October last year.

Their 15-month-old son Artin was reported missing following the tragedy and it was not until June this year that police confirmed a body found on the Norwegian coast was that of the young boy.