Four people have died after a small boat carrying migrants capsized in freezing waters in the English Channel during the early hours on Wednesday morning.
Four people have died after a small boat carrying migrants capsized in freezing waters in the English Channel during the early hours of Wednesday morning.
More than 40 people were picked up after lifeboats, helicopters and rescue teams working with the French and British navies responded to the emergency concerning what the UK government described as "a small migrant boat in distress".
It comes as immigration to Britain organised by people-trafficking criminal gangs has become a priority issue for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's government.
"At 0305 (GMT) today, authorities were alerted to an incident in the Channel concerning a migrant small boat in distress," a British government spokesperson said in a statement.
"After a coordinated search and rescue operation led by HM Coastguard, it is with regret that there have been four confirmed deaths as a result of this incident."
Investigations were underway, the statement added.
UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman told parliament the tragedy was a "sobering reminder" of why dangerous journeys across the Channel had to end.
Earlier on Wednesday, she tweeted that she was "aware of a distressing incident in the Channel" and was waiting for more information.
"My heartfelt thoughts are with all those involved," she added.
The incident happened in freezing conditions off the coast of Kent, where many small boats arrive carrying migrants from France.
LBC radio station reported that 43 people had been rescued. A Reuters journalist saw one body bag being removed from a vessel at the lifeboat station in the port of Dover.
The incident occurred just over a year after 27 people died while attempting to cross the sea in an inflatable dinghy in November 2021, in the worst recorded accident of its kind in the Channel.
Thousands of migrants have been using small boats in the hopes of crossing the Channel to claim asylum in the UK, putting the government under pressure to curb the flow.
A record 44,000 people have arrived in the UK this year after making the dangerous journey across the busy waterway on small boats.