Two men rescued off UK coast but search for third is called off

Two Somali nationals are being processed under British immigration rules

Migrants arrive at Dover, Kent, after being rescued in the Channel on October 18. Photo: PA

Two men in a small boat off the Essex coast have been rescued, while a search for a third man has ended.

The rescued pair are Somali nationals and it is understood that they are now being processed under immigration rules.

Border Force and the coastguard helped with the rescue on Monday afternoon off the coast of Harwich.

But an “extensive search” for a third man, involving the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Border Force and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, was called off about 2pm on Tuesday.

The Home Office described the incident as a “reminder of the extreme dangers of crossing the Channel in small boats”.

It said it was “determined to do everything we can to prevent people dying in the Channel”.

“This afternoon an extensive search and rescue operation for a man reported to have entered the water off the Essex coast concluded," a department representative said.

“We want to thank those who responded to this incident and who continue to work tirelessly to protect lives at sea whilst securing our border.

“While the investigation into this incident continues, it is a reminder of the extreme dangers of crossing the Channel in small boats and the callous disregard for life shown by the criminal gangs.

“The government’s New Plan for Immigration and ongoing work with the French government will help us to crack down on organised criminals and reform the asylum system to deter people from attempting these deadly crossings.”

Migrants are taken to Dover, Kent, on an RNLI vessel after trying to cross the Channel in a small boat on October 18. Photo: PA

A Harwich lifeboat that was launched at 4.05pm on Monday returned then left again at 11.35pm, before going back to shore at 8am on Tuesday.

“RNLI lifeboats from Harwich and Walton and Frinton were involved in a search and rescue operation to a suspected person in the water," the institution said.

“All have been stood down by HM Coastguard, who are continuing to co-ordinate the search with Border Force.”

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said a helicopter and a plane were sent to join the search.

“Tragically, this is not the first time somebody has gone missing attempting the dangerous journey across the seas to Britain in search of safety," said Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council.

“The sad reality is that unless this government fundamentally changes its approach by committing to an ambitious expansion of safe routes for those in need of protection, the lives of ordinary men, women and children will be at risk of being lost in this way.

“Every day, people are forced to flee their home through no fault of their own and we must do more to make the journey safer.

“This government’s cruel and ineffective plans of seeking to punish or push away those who try and find safety in our country must end immediately.”

On Tuesday, UK authorities rescued or intercepted 145 people in five incidents, while French authorities intercepted five events, preventing 137 people from reaching the UK, the Home Office said.

On Sunday, UK authorities rescued or intercepted 29 people, the office said.

Updated: October 26th 2021, 10:11 PM