After the fatal shipwreck of migrants in the Channel, the fear “of having other accidents of this kind”

Just over a year after the shipwreck that claimed the lives of at least 27 people in the Channel, a new small boat capsized during the night of Tuesday December 13 to Wednesday December 14, with nearly fifty people on board trying to reach the English coast. On Wednesday evening, the British authorities deplored four dead and 43 people had been rescued from the icy waters of the Channel in the early morning.

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his ” sadness “lamenting “the tragic loss of human life”. “It’s days like this that we dread”added his interior minister, Suella Braverman, explaining that the tragedy made the fight against smugglers even more urgent. “Crossing the English Channel in boats that are not seaworthy is extremely dangerous. This is why we work so hard to destroy the business model of smugglers, organized criminals treating human beings like commodities”, added this elected representative on the very right of the Conservative Party.

On Wednesday, few elements were known about the circumstances of the sinking. On the French side, the maritime prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea has indicated that it has been engaged in a rescue operation off the British coast, coordinated by the coastguards of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) in Dover. Joined by The world, she did not respond. The Utopia 56 association, present on the coast in support of migrants, said it had been contacted by telephone by five boats in distress during the night.

“Please help us”

One of them could be the one that was shipwrecked. “The position of the boat and the time of call correspond to the rescue operations”says Nikolaï Posner, a spokesperson for Utopia 56. At 2:53 a.m. French time, the association received a voice message via the WhatsApp application in which we hear a man speaking in English: “We are in a boat and we have a problem. (…) Please help us. There are children and families. The water enters from the bottom. We have nothing to make us safe. Please help us, we are in the water. »

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At 2:54 a.m., a location is sent to Utopia 56 from the same number which would locate the boat “in French waters”, very close to the demarcation line with British waters. The phone number was immediately unreachable. The association would have immediately warned the French emergency services by telephone at 2:57 a.m., then an email, of which The world had a copy, was sent to the French and British emergency services at 3:13 a.m. including the geolocation elements. At 3.25 a.m., the English emergency services were also notified by telephone.

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