Syrian held in France after deadly migrant Channel crossing

As of late November, more than 28,000 people have crossed the English Channel since the start of this year

A boat carrying about 50 people drifts into British waters while being monitored by a French vessel on August 24, 2023. Getty Images
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A Syrian man was charged in France on Sunday as part of an inquiry into a boat capsize in the English Channel last week that killed a migrant, prosecutors said.

Mehdi Benbouzid, Saint-Omer public prosecutor, charged the man from Syrian Kurdistan with manslaughter, unintentional injury, deliberate endangerment and aiding illegal entry and residence.

The 30-year-old suspect denies piloting a boat carrying about 60 migrants, including children.

A second man suspected of co-piloting the boat is still at large.

The vessel left Oye-Plage, east of Calais, on Thursday night and capsized off the nearby commune of Gravelines.

One man died and two other passengers are missing, according to the regional maritime authority.

In a separate incident, the body of a migrant was found on the beach at Sangatte in the Pas-de-Calais on Friday after a Channel crossing attempt.

A boat carrying about 70 people had put to sea before returning following engine damage, according to the public prosecutor's office.

About 40 other migrants who had intended to join the group remained on the beach at Sangatte.

Afghan migrant documents dangerous journey across Channel – video

Afghan migrant documents dangerous journey across Channel

Afghan migrant documents dangerous journey across Channel

Police were on the beach and intervened, and a 33-year-old Iraqi man was in custody on Sunday, prosecutors said.

“The suspect appears to have been involved in the crossing scene, but also incited a number of migrants to attack the police when the boat returned,” officials said.

The cause of the victim's death had yet to be determined.

On Friday alone, 292 people reached the UK after crossing the Channel in seven boats, according to the UK Home Office's count. On Saturday, 55 reached the UK in a single boat.

As of late November, more than 28,000 people had crossed the English Channel since the start of this year, according to British government statistics, compared with almost 46,000 for 2022.

Updated: December 17, 2023, 5:49 PM