Four irregular migrants were killed and others seriously injured as they tried to cross the English Channel from France's northwestern region to Britain's southern coast before dawn on Sunday, the French navy said.
The accident happened near a beach in the town of Vermeiro in the Pas de Calais region as the migrants were trying to reach a boat at sea in very cold waters, the maritime authority told AFP.
“We regret so far the deaths of four migrants and the transfer of one migrant to the Boulogne-sur-Mer hospital in an absolute emergency,” she added, confirming information published by local daily La Voie du Nord.
Security forces “monitored the departure of boats and people experiencing difficulties in the water,” she said, explaining that “law enforcement forces were on scene and rescued most of the drowning people.”
The source added that the Abyei Normandy intervention tug “was on patrol in the area and launched to rescue drowning victims” “when the crew discovered an unconscious person in the water.”
Previously, “Beihang” reported that during a rescue operation in the town of Wimere, south of Calais, about 70 people tried to board a small boat last night, and dozens of people were rescued from the icy water. The newspaper added that those who drowned were believed to be from Iraq and Syria.