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Alleged migrant boat found in Folkestone after group makes landfall

A group of migrants have made landfall on a Folkestone beach, according to eyewitnesses.

Photos show a rigid-hulled inflatable dinghy abandoned on the beach, filled with numerous lifejackets.

The rigid hull inflatable dinghy was abandoned on the beach. Photo: Beata Hrkova
The rigid hull inflatable dinghy was abandoned on the beach. Photo: Beata Hrkova

Also left at the scene was what appears to be a compass and a coat.

Beata Hrkova, 57, was walking along the beach when she saw the boat arrive.

She said: "I went on my morning walk and I saw a boat sailing to the shore and I asked myself "what is that?".

"I got closer and I thought it might've been a boot camp kind of thing - but then I saw there were young children with them.

"They just got out and everyone went different ways.

'You could feel the joy coming off them that they'd made it'- Beata Hrkova

"When I realised what's actually happened - that they were refugees - I got closer and took a picture.

"The adults were aged between 20 and 30 because of how they moved, very, very quickly.

"At the same time I was there a man approached from the park and he said he'd contact someone about them.

"One couple started running towards Hythe and one went into the park.

"They seemed to know that it was best if they went in different directions, it was like a strategy.

Several lifejackets and a coat were left at the beach. Photo: Beata Hrkova
Several lifejackets and a coat were left at the beach. Photo: Beata Hrkova

"It was quite fascinating to watch as you could feel the joy coming off of them that they'd made it.

"It was just past the lighthouse at about 8.20am.

"I'm still thinking about them. We're very lucky that we don't need to do that.

"I have very mixed feelings because I came from Slovakia and up to 1989 we were in the Eastern Bloc.

"A lot of peopled emigrated and I always wanted to live somewhere else.

The boat made landfall at about 8.20am today, according to eyewitnesses. Photo: Beata Hrkova
The boat made landfall at about 8.20am today, according to eyewitnesses. Photo: Beata Hrkova

"I was glad they did get onto shore and we didn't need to deal with a body. I'd rather see a boat than a body.

"That's what I like about Folkestone, you never know what you're going to see."

Additional eyewitness reports say that the boat was carrying between 10 and 12 people, including three children, however an exact figure has yet to be confirmed.

A police spokesperson said: "Kent Police received a report that a group of people, believed to be migrants, had got off a boat in Folkestone at 8.21am on Thursday 3 October 2019.

"Officers attended the scene near Lower Sandgate Road alongside HM Coastguard and Border Force. Those from the vessel are now in the care of Home Office officials."

A compass that could have been used to navigate the channel was also discarded. Photo: Beata Hrkova
A compass that could have been used to navigate the channel was also discarded. Photo: Beata Hrkova

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The Border Force is currently dealing with a number of small boat incidents.

"Further details will be provided after the initial response and once the situation has been resolved."

During 2019, up to July 22, there were 1,150 attempts by individuals to cross the Channel illegally.

About 725 people arrived in the UK and 425 were intercepted on the French side of the Channel.

The figures were given that day to the Home Affairs committee by the then Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

Read more: All the latest news from Folkestone


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