FOUR people have died after a dinghy carrying a number of people across the English Channel capsized on Wednesday morning.

Another 43 were rescued, including 30 from the water.

Children were reportedly among those making the treacherous journey in the freezing conditions. 

HM Coastguard launched lifeboats from Dover at 3.07am on Wednesday, quickly followed by boats from Ramsgate and Hastings. An air ambulance later joined the rescue mission.

It comes a day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak outlined tough new measures to try and curb the number of boats making the crossing. 

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More than 44,000 people have made the journey this year, according to Government figures.

In the Commons, Home Secretary Suella Braverman told MPs that the government wanted to end the crossing entirely.

She said: “These are the days that we dread. Crossing the Channel in unseaworthy vessels is a lethally dangerous endeavour.

“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 who treat human beings as cargo.

“This morning’s tragedy, like the loss of 27 people on one November day last year, is the most sobering reminder possible of why we have to end these crossings.”


There was criticism of the government's immigration policy, with opposition politicians, charities and the church all condemning the lack of safe routes into the UK.

But Ms Braverman told MPs that the "capacity" in the UK was "not infinite."

She added: "We cannot accept everybody who wishes to come to the UK. That is a reality of the world and it is a reality of life.”

The SNP's home affairs spokesperson, Alison Thewliss told the Commons: "We want to end these crossings, everybody does, but the reality is, and it has always been, that while safe and legal routes do not exist and while people wait years for applications for family reunion, desperate people will continue to take life threatening journeys because they feel they have no choice." 

Ms Thewliss told the Home Secretary that it was "cruelty to ignore the reality and dangerous to keep repeating the same mistakes."

"People are paying not only with money but with their lives," she added.

Labour shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said both the UK and French governments had to tackle the gangs smuggling people across the Channel. 

“They need to be caught, they need to be prosecuted, they need to be jailed for the loss of life in the cold sea. We need comprehensive action," she said.

“The responsibility for the lives that have been lost in the Channel lies with the criminal gangs,” she said, but added: “We need action before more lives are lost in peril on the sea”.

Ms Braverman insisted that her government "won’t stop until we have seen progress, until people understand that taking this lethal journey is not safe, it is not lawful, and it will not lead them to a better life in the United Kingdom.”

Dover Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke called for “joint patrols on the French beaches.”

“That boat shouldn’t have been in the water in the first place, let alone in these kind of conditions at this time of year,” she said.


The sinking dinghy was spotted by a fishing crew just after 3am. According to reports the skipper and his crew managed to haul 31 people out of the freezing waters. 

Footage filmed from the boat showed some of those in the water dressed only in T-shirts and thin lifejackets.

A government spokesman said authorities were alerted at 03:05 GMT.

The UK coastguard, the French Navy, the RNLI and an air ambulance were all sent to help with the rescue operation.

The Public and Commercial Services union who represents members of the Border Force and the coastguard, said the tragedy was "entirely avoidable."

Paul O’Connor from the union said: “The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, says her heartfelt thoughts are with all those involved.

“Those words ring utterly hollow when she has spent her time as Home Secretary vilifying and demonising the very people she now feigns sympathy with.

“She should resign in disgrace."

The founder of refugee charity Care4Calais, Clare Moseley, said the Government had “blood” on its hands over the incident.

“There are no words to express our horror and grief at today’s tragedy,” she said.

“A full year on from 32 people losing their lives in the Channel, our Government has done nothing to prevent further deaths and so has failed both the refugees who need our help and our country.

“Three weeks ago we stood in solidarity with the relatives of those 32 souls and felt their undiminished grief. It is unbearable to think that more families will now suffer the same pain.

“Both then and now, these deaths are wholly unnecessary and preventable. By failing to act, our government has blood on their hands.

Reacting to Care4Calais’ remarks, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I don’t think those sorts of comments are in any way appropriate at this time.

“The Government is firmly fixed on resolving this issue.