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Record 853 migrants cross English Channel in small boats in single day

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard the Dungeness Lifeboat following a small boat incident in the Channel. Pic by Gareth Fuller

By Flora Thompson, PA Home Affairs Correspondent

At least 853 migrants crossed the English Channel to the UK on small boats in a single day on Wednesday – a new record for the current crisis.

The Home Office confirmed UK authorities had to rescue or intercept this number of people from 25 incidents.

The arrival tally eclipses the previous daily record of 828 set in August and is the highest number of crossings ever recorded in one day in the current crisis, according to data compiled by the PA news agency.

It comes after French authorities said two migrants died this week while attempting the journey and several more were feared to have been lost at sea last week.

More than 21,000 migrants have made the crossing to the UK so far this year, analysis by PA shows. This is more than double the total for the whole of 2020.

In 2019, Home Secretary Priti Patel promised to make migrant crossings an “infrequent phenomenon” by spring 2020 and then pledged in August last year to “make this route unviable”. During this time, the Government has agreed to pay France millions of pounds to increase security on its northern coast.

Campaigners and aid charities have repeatedly called on ministers to overhaul the asylum system in light of the soaring numbers.

The Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea said one person was found dead on the beach at Wissant, near Calais, on Thursday morning after the discovery of a boat filled with water.

Two other people, who were found with them suffering from hypothermia, were treated by emergency services and taken to hospital.

Another migrant died attempting the crossing on Wednesday, said French authorities, who had carried out a rescue mission in the Strait of Pas-de-Calais.

It is believed they were unconscious when they were pulled from the water and pronounced dead as rescuers returned to shore, while another person has been reported as missing.

Two men – both Somali nationals – were rescued off the Essex coast near Harwich on October 25 and searches for any possible remaining survivors have now been called off.

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