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Home Secretary Confirms Four Have Died In Small Boat Incident In Channel

3 min read

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has expressed her "profound sadness" after confirming four people died in an incident in the Channel today involving a small boat.

She told the Commons that the event "is the most sobering reminder possible of why we have to end these crossings".

Braverman added that she had spoken to French counterpart this morning, but said it would be "inappropriate to go into further detail at this time".

"These are the days that we dread. Crossing the Channel in unseaworthy vessels is a lethally dangerous endeavour," she said.

"It is for this reason, above all, that we are working so hard to destroy the business model of the people smugglers, evil organised criminals, to treat human beings as cargo."

She continued: "As the Prime Minister said yesterday, it is not cruel or unkind to want to break the stranglehold of the criminal gangs who trade in human misery, and who exploit our system and our laws. He was right."

She expressed her "profound sadness and deep sympathies for everyone affected", as well as "profound gratitude to those working on the search and rescue operation".

In an earlier statement, the Home Secretary said: "I am aware of a distressing incident in the Channel this morning and I am being kept constantly updated while agencies respond and urgently establish the full facts."

She added: “My heartfelt thoughts are with all those involved.”

Speaking at PMQs on Wednesday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was sure MPs Commons would "share my sorrow" over the "tragic loss of human life" in the Channel.

 "Our hearts go out to all those affected and our tributes to those involved in the extensive rescue operation," he continued.

His sentiments were echoed by Labour leader Keir Starmer, who said it was "a reminder that the criminal gangs running those routes put the lives of the desperate at risk and profit from their misery".

A government spokesperson said on Wednesday: "After a coordinated search and rescue operation led by HM Coastguard, it is with regret that there have been four confirmed deaths as a result of this incident, investigations are ongoing and we will provide further information in due course."

They said authorities were alerted to the incident at 3:05am on Wednesday.

Around 43 people are believed to have been rescued, and it is unclear if the four dead are among that number.

A government spokesperson said earlier that “all relevant agencies” were involved in dealing with the incident.

HM Coastguard had confirmed that lifeboats had been sent out from “Dover, Dungeness, Hastings and Ramsgate" as well as coastguard teams from "Deal, Dungeness and Folkestone".

“HM Coastguard helicopters from Lydd and Lee on Solent and one from the French navy are involved.

"A fishing vessel in the area is also assisting in the rescue. South East Coast ambulance and Kent police are working with us,” they continued.

“HM Coastguard will continue to safeguard life around the seas and coastal areas of the UK, working with search and rescue resources in the area.

If a vessel needs search and rescue assistance, HM Coastguard will continue to respond to all those in need.”

The incident comes just over a year after the worst-ever migrant disaster in the Channel.

A rubber dinghy travelling from France to the UK sank on 24 November 2021, killing 27 of the 34 people on board. The bodies of four of the victims were never recovered.

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