Published: 16:32, 27 October 2020
| Updated: 17:26, 27 October 2020
Four attempted asylum seekers are feared dead and 18 have been taken to hospital after a boat capsized off Dunkirk today.
French officials have confirmed two children are among the dead.
MP for Dover Natalie Elphicke lamented the incident as a "terrible tragedy" and castigated people traffickers who continue to make money from the plight of those seeking to reach the UK.
The search and rescue operation included military resources including French military patrol boats and a helicopter from the Belgian Air Force, as well as a fishing boat.
Eighteen people have already been taken to hospitals in Calais and Dunkirk, according to the Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea.
The people are thought to have set sail despite wind gusts of up to 18mph.
The alarm was raised by a sailboat which notified search and rescue.
Natalie Elphicke 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."
This summer has seen a huge rise in the number of people reaching Kent by small boats. The majority land in or around Dover.