Seven-year-old girl drowns in English Channel crossing, officials say

A seven-year-old girl has died after a boat carrying 16 migrants capsized in the English Channel, French officials said.

The girl who drowned had been travelling with her pregnant mother, her father and three siblings when the boat got into trouble in the early morning of March 3, local authority Prefet du Nord said.

According to officials, another couple, two men and six young children were also on board the “probably stolen” vessel that was unfit to carry that number of passengers.

They said the other passengers have been transported to a hospital in Dunkirk and their lives are not thought to be at risk.

A walker raised the alarm and police and firefighters attended the boat that was in the Canal de l’Aa in Watten, Prefet du Nord added.

This week’s Home Office figures showed more than 2,000 migrants have arrived in the UK so far this year after crossing the strait between England and France.

The number of Channel arrivals is 32% lower than the total recorded this time last year (2,953) but 49% higher than the total at this stage in 2022 (1,482).

Some 29,437 migrants arrived in the UK after making the crossing in 2023, down 36% on a record 45,774 arrivals in 2022.

The Home Office said there were no new arrivals on Tuesday or Monday this week, but 290 asylum seekers arrived across five boats last Sunday.

Home Secretary James Cleverly was in the US this week where he made a speech focused on tackling unauthorised migration.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made stopping the boats one of his top five pledges to the electorate in January last year.

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