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Sky News joins fisherman to witness migrants’ rescue in Channel | UK News

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Sky News witnessed multiple rescues of suspected migrants in the Channel.

Amid a reported increase in the number of migrants travelling to the UK by boat, around 65 men and women were spotted and taken in by UK Border Force vessels.

Our team joined in a fishing boat at dawn as the drama unfolded.

I could hear the shrieks as we approached them.

It was a large group of migrants packed tightly onto a tiny, black inflatable dinghy.

Migrants wait to be rescued from their tiny dinghy
Image:
Migrants wait to be rescued from their tiny dinghy

One of them waved at us, presumably for help.

Luckily for them, the help they desperately sought was on its way.

We arrived at the same time as the UK Border Force.

“Turn your engine off,” the officers screamed to the dinghy.

The migrants duly obliged and began cheering. They had achieved their aim – to cross into UK waters.

The Border Force pulled in the inflatable boat and pulled 13 migrants to safety.

But this was only one of several incidents in the English Channel this morning.

By 7am, there were seven separate boats intercepted carrying more than 65 migrants in total. That figure will almost certainly rise throughout the day.

The migrants were taken into harbour
Image:
The migrants were taken into harbour

Sky News sailed out to the channel with a local fisherman, Matt Coker.

“Unfortunately what you’ve seen today is very typical right now,” he told me.

“It’s happening more and more on days like this, when the weather is calm.”

All of the migrants were taken into Dover Harbour and led to a makeshift immigration processing centre.

We first spotted the dinghy at sunrise – just before 5am.

They were being circled by a French vessel for two hours. They seemingly made no attempt to stop the migrants crossing the border.

The French authorities were there when we approached, and shortly after the Border Force patrol boat Speedwell came speeding up behind us.

We must have been within 100 yards when the officers reeled in the migrants, one by one.

After a matter of minutes, all were onboard and the Speedwell vessel set off – but not in the direction of the harbour.

They had been called to another distress signal. A further six migrants were stranded a few miles away. They too were rescued.

The UK Border Force patrols the waters
Image:
The UK Border Force patrols the waters

Meanwhile, two other Border Force vessels, along with Dover Lifeboat, were called to intercept separate migrant boats.

At least two of those tiny inflatables were in the middle of the busy shipping lane, with massive container ships and ferries told to look out for the boats and avoid hitting them.

As we headed back to shore I reflected on the drama of a morning I won’t forget.

And I was left with a sobering feeling – that all of this will probably happen again tomorrow.

There’s no doubt that the European coronavirus lockdown has led to an increase in migrant channel crossings to the UK by boat.

That’s because there are not many other options at the moment, with vehicle crossings down.

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