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Watch: Migrants rescued from sinking boat in English Channel
Eight children were among the 39 people rescued from a migrant boat which began sinking in the Channel on Wednesday, according to a government source.
The figure is different to one given by Kent County Council, which earlier said 12 children had been on the boat and been taken into care.
A teenager was among four people who died, while four others remain missing, a meeting at the council heard.
They were on a packed vessel which started sinking in freezing waters.
Crews on a nearby fishing boat and lifeboats helped with the rescue.
A search operation for the four people believed to be still missing came to an end at 17:00 GMT on Thursday, the Coastguard said.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said vessels in the area had been asked to post lookouts and report sightings to the Dover Coastguard.
Footage from Wednesday’s rescue showed the inflatable boat filling with water as some dressed only in T-shirts and thin lifejackets screamed for help.
The video – shared by Ben Squire, the owner of the fishing trawler- showed the crew of the fishing boat pulling people up out of the water and the boat with ropes.
Those rescued from the dinghy said they had each paid £5,000 to cross the channel, the BBC has been told.
Mr Squire said that after hauling people to safety, the crew offered them clothes and hot showers, and fed them to help warm them up.
Charles Blyth, the safety officer at the company which owns the trawler, said it was “sheer coincidence” it was in the right place for the rescue.
“As soon as the individuals on that dinghy saw [our] fishing vessel, many of them started to jump off and swim,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
He said crew members onboard had been trained in emergency care for people going overboard.
Lifeboat crews that arrived at the scene 10 minutes after the fishing trawler encountered a “horrific” and “distressing situation”, the RNLI’s head of lifeboats said on Thursday.
Simon Ling thanked the “invaluable” actions of the fishing vessel, saying crew members had saved “countless lives”.
Temperatures at the time had dropped below 1C and were likely to have been colder out at sea.
On Thursday, French maritime officials said “around 10 precarious boats” had attempted the Channel crossing overnight into Wednesday.
Officials said several of them contacted emergency services during the night and French authorities monitored the progress of the boats.
Information was shared with the Dover Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC), which co-ordinated the eventual rescue.
They provided a detailed timeline of the boat’s sinking and rescue.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his sorrow at the “tragic loss of human life”.
In a joint statement, the UK and France pledged to “destroy” the business model of people-smuggling gangs.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman and her French counterpart Gérald Darmanin said the tragedy highlighted the need to jointly prevent the crossings.
In November 2021, at least 27 migrants died after a dinghy sank while heading to the UK from France.
Some 460 people made the journey from France to Kent in small boats between Friday and Sunday, the BBC’s Simon Jones said.
Nearly 45,000 people have made the journey this year so far.
It is not known where the children that were rescued have been taken, but Kent County Council works with the Home Office and police in the safeguarding of vulnerable children.
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Eight children among 39 rescued from migrant boat
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