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French authorities launch probe as asylum seeker dies at sea off Dunkirk

A manslaughter investigation has been launched after a man died after diving into the Channel when the boat carrying him and 36 others sank.

The French authorities have confirmed the 27-year-old was from Eritrea and his girlfriend was among those on the boat.

Footage widely circulated on Whatsapp shows more than a dozen asylum seekers running ashore

Rescue teams were called to the scene 13 miles off Dunkirk, France, when the vessel, whose 36-person crew included families, needed assistance as it headed towards the UK.

The man and four others jumped overboard when the boat began to sink.

After being found unconscious having reportedly suffered a cardio-respiratory arrest, the man was airlifted to a hospital in Calais, where he later died.

His 22-year-old girlfriend watched as he entered the water before she was later rescued, a French migrant help organisation told the PA news agency.

After being returned to port in Dunkirk, she later discovered that her boyfriend had tragically died after being taken to hospital.

Agence France-Presse reported yesterday: "A migrant, rescued after the sinking of a boat, died in the hospital where he had been transferred by helicopter."

The Dunkirk Prosecutor's Office has revealed a criminal investigation has been launched for “endangering the lives of others, manslaughter and assistance with the illegal entry or stay of foreigners in France”.

A number of asylum seekers about to land in Ramsgate
A number of asylum seekers about to land in Ramsgate

The Refugee Council said: “This tragic loss of life is a sobering reminder that the odds are stacked against ordinary men, women and children, who are desperately struggling for safety and protection."

The tragedy came as other asylum seekers were recorded scrambling ashore in Hythe yesterday.

Shocked beachgoers looked on as more than a dozen arrivals ran from their vessel and up the sloping beach towards the sea wall.

The incident, which was in the shadow of the Imperial Hotel, was one of two landings caught on camera that day, as people-smuggling gangs took advantage of the calm waters.

A group of asylum seekers were also pictured just before arriving at Ramsgate Main Sands at about midday.

Bridget Chapman from Kent Refugee Action Network

About a dozen people could be seen on the dinghy less than 100 metres from shore.

And an hour earlier in Dungeness, a vessel was spotted being towed in by lifeboat crews.

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