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French police investigate Channel shipwreck that killed at least six

Paramedics assist a migrant picked up at sea while attempting to cross the English Channel, after they were picked up by a British lifeboat.
Paramedics assist a migrant picked up at sea while attempting to cross the English Channel, after they were picked up by a British lifeboat. Copyright AFP
Copyright AFP
By Euronews with AFP
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An overcrowded vessel attempting to cross from France to UK capsized this week, ending with the death of several Afghan exiles.

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The Paris public prosecutor is taking over an investigation into the shipwreck in the English Channel in which at least six Afghan exiles died.

The boat was spotted sinking early on Saturday morning by the French public service patrol vessel Cormoran, which launched the rescue operation.

The boat was carrying "probably 65 to 66 people", according to the Préfecture Maritime de la Manche et de la Mer du Nord, all men, almost all of them Afghan nationality, with a few Sudanese, and "a few minors", according to the Boulogne-sur-Mer public prosecutor's office.

The death toll has not yet been finalised, and after the latest count of survivors brought ashore on both the French and British sides, it is not certain whether anyone is still missing.

The investigation will be examining allegations of manslaughter and unintentional injury, aiding illegal residence and criminal conspiracy, said the Paris public prosecutor's office.

According to France's Préfecture Maritime, a total of 58 or 59 people were rescued and brought to shore on Saturday – 22 or 23 on the British side and 36 on the French side.

All boats passing through the area concerned have been asked to be vigilant and to report any sightings.

In 2022, a record year, 45,000 people attempted the Channel crossing despite the perils of the Strait of Pas-de-Calais, one of the busiest in the world.

In November 2021, at least 27 migrants, aged between 7 and 46, were killed in the deadliest shipwreck recorded in the area.

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