Four people are believed to be dead – including two children – as a makeshift boat has capsized off the coast of France.
Eighteen people have been taken to hospitals in Calais and Dunkirk, according to a statement by the Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea.
The two children were confirmed to be aged eight and five.
One man drowned when the migrant boat sank, and three people died after they were pulled from the water alive with 18 others.
The vessel was seen getting into difficult off the coast of Dunkirk by a passing ship around 9.30 am local time and the authorities sent ships and helicopters out to help.
French and Belgian civilian ships have also been helping out to find survivors.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the “tragic news highlights the dangers that come with crossing the Channel”.
“I will do everything I can to stop callous criminals exploiting vulnerable people,” she said.
Dover MP Natalie Elphicke said it was “terrible that tragedy has struck in the Channel again”, adding: “People traffickers have no regard for life, no matter how old or young.”
Data shows that more than 7,400 migrants have reached the UK in small boats this year, up from 1,825 in 2019.
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