Up to 50 migrants plucked from English Channel as dinghy breaks in two

Migrants are plucked from English Channel after 38 plunge into sea when dinghy deflates while RNLI pick up another 40 trying to make the crossing

  • Pictures show men, women and children being helped ashore on Dungeness beach in Kent following rescue
  • It comes after number of migrants to reach the UK via the Channel on small boats topped 29,000 yesterday
  • The first two weeks of September saw 4,056 people arrive in 96 boats alone, with more expected next week

Dozens of migrants were plucked from the English Channel today after their dinghy ‘rapidly deflated’, sparking a dramatic rescue operation involving a helicopter, aeroplane and several RNLI boats. 

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed that 38 people were rescued after coming into difficulty while attempting the 21-mile crossing this morning – before a further 40 were intercepted and escorted to a beach in Kent at around 2pm. 

Pictures show men, women and children being helped down a ladder from a rescue boat on the pebbled shores of Dungeness, before they are seen walking in a single file to safety wrapped in blankets and under the watch of Border Force officials and police. 

It comes after the number of migrants reaching Britain in small boats this year topped 29,000 yesterday – representing a higher figure than for the whole of 2021. 

The first two weeks of September alone saw 4,056 people arrive in 96 boats, and more are expected to risk the perilous journey next week amid better weather conditions. 

It is understood that HM Coastguard coordinated a search and rescue operation in response to an incident involving small boats off the coast of Kent between 6am and 8am today.

The Navy and police were reportedly called to the scene to assist – along with a coastguard helicopter from Lydd, a fixed wing aircraft, RNLI boats from Dover and Dungeness, and Border Force vessel Ranger.

Migrants are helped down from an RLNI boat after being rescued in the English Channel on Thursday – a day after the number to make the perilous crossing this year surpassed a record 29,000

An injured migrant is brought into Dover on wheelchair after being rescued from the English Channel on Thursday morning

Men, women and children donning red life jackets are seen forming a line on the pebbled beach in Dungeness, Kent on Thursday 

The record-breaking number of migrants crossing the Channel has shown no sign of slowing

Migrants are helped down from an RLNI boat after being rescued in the English Channel on Thursday – a day after the number to make the perilous crossing this year surpassed a record 29,000

An RNLI rescuer hands over a child to police after plucking them from the Channel in a dramatic rescue operation on Thursday 

The first two weeks of September alone saw 4,056 people arrive in 96 boats, and more are expected to risk the perilous journey next week amid better weather conditions (Pictured: Child migrant is brought ashore in Kent on Thursday)

A young girl wearing a life jacket is carried to safety on the shores of Kent on Thursday after being rescued from the Channel 

A group of migrants stand in line on stony Dungeness beach in Kent on Thursday after being plucked from the English Channel 

A migrant grasps a black bin bag containing his possessions as he walks to safety on the pebbled beach of Dungeness in Kent, following a rescue operation in the English Channel 

A group of male migrants gather on Dungeness beach in Kent as they roll cigarettes and put their hoods up amid the wet weather 

A migrant wades through the water off Dungeness beach in Kent after he was rescued out at sea on Thursday 

A group of migrants gaze at the shores of Kent as they approach on an RLNI rescue boat after being pulled from the waters on Thursday 

Migrants form a single file line after being handed brown and blue blankets upon being brought ashore in Kent on Thursday 

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dungeness, Kent, by Border Force officers, after being rescued by the RNLI following a small boat incident in the Channel

Up to 50 migrants are believed to have been brought in to Kent on Thursday following a dramatic rescue mission in the English Channel 

The number has increased steadily each year since 299 people were detected making the journey in 2018.

There were 1,843 crossings detected in 2019, 8,466 in 2020 and 28,526 in 2021, according to the Home Office

The current cumulative total for 2022, 29,099 is nearly double the number at this point last year (14,474).

Of the 29,099 people who have been provisionally detected so far this year, 23,831 have crossed since the Government announced on April 14 that it had agreed a deal to deport some asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The first deportation flight – due to take off on June 14 – was grounded amid a series of legal challenges.

In 2021 more than half of the people detected crossing the Channel were of Iranian or Iraqi nationality (30% and 22% of the total respectively).

A further 10% were Eritrean, 9% were Syrian and 5% were from Afghanistan.

Former home secretary Priti Patel said in the House of Commons on September 5 that Albanian nationals accounted for around 60% of the people arriving in the UK via small boats over the summer.

The average has risen steadily since the start of 2021.

In 2018 there were fewer than 10 people per boat, while in 2019 and 2020 the figure tended to fluctuate between single figures and the high teens.

From 2021 the average started to increase, reaching 20 in March and 30 in August.

The Ministry of Defence said there were no fatalities.

A spokesperson added: ‘The Ministry of Defence, Border Force, and the UK Coastguard are currently working on a coordinated response to an incident involving migrants travelling in small boats in the English Channel this morning.

‘No fatalities were reported. Further details will be provided in due course.’

The coastguard said: ‘HM Coastguard has been coordinating a search and rescue response to an incident involving small boats off Kent, working with the Navy, Border Force, police, and other partners. 

‘We sent the coastguard helicopter from Lydd, a fixed wing aircraft, RNLI lifeboats from Dover and Border Force vessel Ranger.’ 

It comes after some 538 people were intercepted making the treacherous journey across the English Channel in dinghies on Tuesday in 11 separate incidents.

A flotilla of Border Force vessels and RNLI lifeboats worked around the clock to intercept and rescue people on the stretch of water.

The flimsy inflatable boats have to cross two of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and are extremely difficult to spot from large container ships and tankers.

Most were brought into the harbour at Dover while others came in at Ramsgate.

The latest arrivals take the total number of migrants brought ashore on the Kent and Sussex coast so far this year to 29,099.

In 2021 there were 28,526 migrants detained in what was then a record compared to 8,410 in 2020.

But 2022 became an official record year after the MoD confirmed 601 people had arrived in the UK on Monday (September 12) – taking the total to 28,561.

Weather conditions in the Channel have deteriorated hampering chances of small boats risking the crossing over the coming days.

But with better weather expected next week, the record figure is expected to rise before the end of the year.

Natalie Elphicke MP for Dover has said: ‘The numbers of arrivals are deeply concerning. It’s vital to see the small boats crisis brought to an end as the seas will become colder and rougher as we head into Autumn and Winter.

‘Action is needed now to avoid further tragic loss of life on the English Channel.’

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