Dozens of migrants rescued off the coast of Belgium

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By AFP
File photo dated Saturday Aug. 8, 2020. A Border Force vessel at the port city of Dover, England.
File photo dated Saturday Aug. 8, 2020. A Border Force vessel at the port city of Dover, England.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

Belgian authorities have rescued 49 migrants off the coast on Wednesday morning. Most of them are of Vietnamese origin, and probably seeking to reach England by boat, according to Bruges' prosecutor.

The group of people were brought back to the shore in Zeebrugge "in good health, but some showed slight signs of hypothermia," it said in a statement. "We suspect that the boat came from the French coast."

Migrants often intercepted hidden in truck trailers

Belgian police regularly intercept migrants around the port of Zeebrugge seeking to cross the Channel hidden in truck trailers.

Rescue operations at sea are less frequent. On Wednesday it involved deployment of a helicopter to locate the boat.

A report of a boat in distress was received shortly after 7:00 a.m. local time (5:00 GMT), according to the prosecutor. “Apparently there was water in the boat, but everyone was still on board."

People smuggling routes via Moscow to Europe

More recently other Vietnamese migrants found in France have been held in a camp in Grande-Synthe, on the outskirts of Dunkirk. About a hundred of them were released on May 6, according to regional officials.

Authorities said that Vietnamese migrants en route to England usually head to the coast. The smuggling routes often have them fly by plane to Moscow, before being transported by land. 

On Wednesday, an investigation into human trafficking was opened in Belgium, and is being taken care of by the West Flanders police.