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20 rescued from inflatable boat in the Channel

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20 rescued from inflatable boat in the Channel

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The UK Coastguard has rescued 20 people from the English Channel after their inflatable boat began to take on water.

Officials say they are 18 Albanians and two British nationals.

They were rescued late on Saturday after an operation involving a search-and-rescue helicopter and lifeboats dispatched from English and French ports.

A rescue call was received shortly before midnight local time (2300 GMT). The boat was off the coast at Dymchurch, 120 kilometres southeast of London.

It took rescuers several hours to locate the small rigid-hulled inflatable boat.

The Home Office says the 20 people rescued have been taken to Dover. They are being questioned by British border officials.

Is it the first time this has happened?

No.

On Tuesday, 17 Albanians and a British national on a catamaran were apprehended 150 kilometres to the west in the port of Chichester in West Sussex.

At the beginning of February, four Iranian migrants lost at sea in the Channel were saved by a fifth who had swum ashore at Sangatte in France and raised the alarm.

At the end of March, the French Navy rescued three Iranian nationals who had got into difficulty in an inflatable boat off Dunkerque.

“This confirms our fears: people are prepared to do whatever it takes. But the Channel is a maritime motorway and it is really dangerous to attempt this kind of crossing,” said Bernard Barron, President of the SNSM of Calais.

What they are saying

“A rescue operation has been carried out at sea in British waters during the night off Dungeness. 20 migrants were in a semi-rigid boat which was sinking,” – Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and North Sea.

“The victims, who admit they are migrants, called their families who alerted the authorities. Rescue services were despatched from both sides of the Channel,” said the President of the SNSM of Calais, Bernard Barron.

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