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France rescues 159 migrants as they bid to make it to the UK

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A French rescue helicopter lands close to a rescue vessel in Dunkirk, northern France, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020.
A French rescue helicopter lands close to a rescue vessel in Dunkirk, northern France, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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French authorities rescued 159 migrants as they attempted to cross the English Channel and make it to the UK.

Among the migrants saved were 10 children and a pregnant woman. Several suffered from hypothermia.

The French Maritime Prefecture said they were rescued in eight separate operations on Thursday.

Crossing the Channel is particularly dangerous because it is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world with an average of 400 ships per day to which are added 100 daily ferry services between France and the UK, according to the Maritime Prefecture.

Furthermore, the weather can be unpredictable with more than 120 days of wind greater than or equal to force 7 per average per year, dense fog and cold water temperatures.

Still, the number of people attempting the perilous journey exploded last year.

In 2020, the Prefecture recorded "868 incidents involving attempts or crossings" by boats in the Channel with 9,551 migrants onboard — more than four times the 2,294 migrants who attempted or successfully managed the crossing in 2019.

The number of deaths has also increased from 4 recorded in 2019 to 6 last year.

So far this year, 1,105 migrants have attempted or crossed the Channel including 890 between January 1 and February 28 and 215 last month.