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Asylum seeker dies and others filmed arriving in Hythe and Ramsgate as Channel crossings soar


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An asylum seeker has died after a boat with 40 people on board sank while dozens of others were filmed scrambling ashore in Kent.

A helicopter rescued the man from the Channel as the craft began to be submerged this morning.

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

The rescue operation involved French and Belgian air and sea units.

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

The vessel had been heading for the UK when it started taking in water.

Searches had started at around 10am after a cargo ship reported that it was in difficulty, with some people overboard, off the coast of Dunkirk.

The unconscious man taken aboard the cargo ship’s lifeboat and transferred on to a French Navy vessel was later airlifted to hospital in Calais.

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

He was believed to have suffered cardio-respiratory arrest and was transported aboard a Belgian Air Force helicopter, French authorities say.

Several others were also hoisted into the helicopter, while more were rescued by nearby fishing boats.

They were all transferred on to the French Navy’s Flamant patrol boat, which headed for the port of Dunkirk.

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 Home Office’s Clandestine Channel Threat Commander Dan O’Mahoney said: “Today someone sadly died in France following an incident in French waters during an attempt to cross the Channel.

“This underlines the terrible dangers of small boat crossings and why we must work together with the French to prevent callous criminals exploiting vulnerable people.”

The tragedy came as other asylum seekers were recorded scrambling ashore as their dinghy motored onto shingle at Hythe.

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 in the shadow of the Imperial Hotel was one of two landings caught on camera as people smuggling gangs took advantage of calm waters to send scores of flimsy boats on perilous journeys.

A group of asylum seekers were also pictured just before landing in Ramsgate.

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

The group was spotted off Ramsgate Main Sands at about midday.

A group of asylum seekers making their way to Ramsgate
A group of asylum seekers making their way to Ramsgate

Further around the coastline, another group arrived on a small boat in Dungeness at about 11am.

They were towed in by lifeboat crews, and a digger then pulled the vessel across the shingle.

Last Thursday saw a record day, with almost 500 people arriving on 21 boats, with the annual total now well over 10,000.

A dinghy being dragged across the shingle at Dungeness this morning. Picture: Kylie Terry
A dinghy being dragged across the shingle at Dungeness this morning. Picture: Kylie Terry

The latest bids to reach the UK come after French authorities intercepted at least 108 people trying to cross the Channel yesterday, with one person having to be airlifted to hospital in Dunkirk.

The dangerous trip across the world's busiest shipping lane has claimed many lives in the past.

Among them were Rasoul Iran-Nejad and his wife Shiva Mohammad Panahi, who died along with their three children when their boat capsized on October 27 lasr year.

Their 15-month-old son Artin was reported missing following the tragedy and it was not until June this year that police confirmed a body found on the Norwegian coast was that of the young boy.

The tally for successful crossings this year now stands at more than 10,700 people, despite the dangers involved in the journey.

By early last month crossings had already eclipsed last year’s total of 8,417.

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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