Published: 08:28, 29 October 2020
| Updated: 11:08, 29 October 2020
A baby is feared to be among the missing asylum seekers whose boat capsized off Dunkirk as French rescuers stop searching the waters.
Efforts to locate any more survivors of the tragic incident on Tuesday have been stood down after an official from the French maritime agency said there was no chance of finding anyone still alive.
Four people are known to have died, including children aged five and eight, and 15 others were rescued and taken to hospitals in Dunkirk and Calais after the French-led rescue operation.
According to the BBC, the four people were a Kurdish-Iranian family, whose 15-month-old baby, Artin, remains missing.
The searches which included military resources and civilian helpers continued until Tuesday night but were called off because of darkness and bad weather and did not resume.
Investigators are now questioning the survivors to determine exactly how many people were aboard and if any others might have drowned, the French maritime official has said.
But she could not confirm rumours that a baby might be among the missing.
Both Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN) and Care4Calais have called for this latest tragedy to be a wake-up call for the government to stop migrants making the dangerous journey in small boats.
Opposition Labour Party lawmaker Yvette Cooper has echoed their message.
She told the BBC: "We have feared that we would see a tragedy like this for a long time.
“The journey is perilous and we’ve seen an increase in the number of these small boat crossings, these really flimsy boats."
She said the government did not have “a clear enough analysis of the reasons why people are making this journey.”
She tweeted: "It is terrible that tragedy has struck in the Channel again. People traffickers have no regard for life, no matter how old or young.
"These perilous crossings must be stopped, once and for all, before there is more loss of life in these stormy winter seas."
Later Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his thoughts were with the victims' loved ones.
He said: "We have offered the French authorities every support as they investigate this terrible incident and we'll do all we can to crack down on the ruthless criminal gangs who prey n vulnerable people by facilitating these dangerous journeys".