France rescues 213 migrants from Channel

Operation began on Sunday and continued into Monday as migrant boats encountered problems

A total of 213 migrants were rescued in the English Channel on Sunday and Monday as they tried to cross from France to Britain in makeshift boats, French officials said.

After "many" boats were reported in distress overnight, rescue operations continued into the day on Monday, the prefecture for the Channel and North Sea said.

One French navy patrol boat rescued 82 people in four operations.

Seventy-six others were rescued in two trips by lifeboats based in Dunkirk, while the prefecture said boats from Boulogne-sur-Mer rescued 40 people "in a state of hypothermia" from a boat that was sinking.

Another 15 were taken to Boulogne by another navy boat.

Increasing numbers of migrants have tried to cross to Britain by sea since late 2018, despite authorities warning of the dangers in the busy shipping lane, with strong currents and low temperatures.

French prefect Philippe Dutrieux said about 15,400 migrants attempted the crossing between January 1 and August 31 this year, 3,500 of whom were rescued "in difficulty" before being taken to France.

In 2020, about 9,500 people made or attempted crossings, compared with 2,300 in 2019 and 600 in 2018.

Updated: October 18th 2021, 11:19 PM