Around 1,000 people reached the UK in a single day after risking their lives in small boats in the English Channel, a new record for the current crisis.
A young girl wrapped in a red jacket was seen being carried ashore in Dover on Thursday, one of hundreds of people brought into the Kent port after being picked up at sea.
Lifeboat crews and Border Force boats were busy well into the evening after spending hours intercepting boats in the Dover Straight throughout the day.
Three migrants were reported missing after seeking to cross the Channel from France to England in canoes, the French maritime authorities said on Friday.
Their disappearance was reported by two other migrants rescued from the sea, the regional maritime prefecture said. Search efforts halted on Thursday at nightfall and there was no plan to resume them, it added.
Thursday’s total will surpass the previous single-day record for the current crisis of 853 set earlier this month when figures are finalised.
Dozens of migrants including children wrapped in blankets were helped ashore to Britain after crossing the Channel.
More than 1,200 people had reached the UK in the previous seven days after undertaking the perilous journey from France on small boats.
This is despite three people losing their lives while attempting the crossing in recent weeks and several more feared to have been lost at sea.
Britain has recorded a surge in migrant crossings this year, with significant numbers of people still hoping to reach the UK, despite the looming winter.
On Thursday, groups of people were seen arriving in the Kent port on board the lifeboat as well as Border Force’s Hurricane vessel on a grey November day.
Children wrapped in jackets and blankets against the autumn chill, some carried in the arms of adults, were among those being brought ashore.
Further along the coast, more people were reportedly seen arriving on Hastings beach after being picked up by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
Numbers of people arriving in Britain aboard dinghies and other small boats, a highly dangerous trip, have continued to rise in 2021.
More than 22,300 people have so far succeeded in reaching the UK aboard small boats this year, according to data compiled by the PA news agency. This is more than double the number for the whole of 2020.
Despite this, the UK continues to see far fewer boat arrivals and asylum claims than many of its European counterparts.
At least 100,907 people have arrived in Europe through the Mediterranean by land and sea so far this year, data from the UN refugee agency UNHCR shows.
After 695 people reached the UK on Wednesday, the Home Office’s clandestine Channel threat commander, Dan O’Mahoney, said migrants making these crossings were putting their lives at risk.
"It is vital we do everything we can to prevent them and break the business model of the criminal gangs exploiting people," he said.
“As part of our response it is important we have a maritime deterrent in the Channel and Border Force officers are authorised to use safe and legal options for stopping small boats.”