French maritime authorities say they have rescued 84 people aboard four vessels who attempted to reach the UK from France's northern coast. The number of irregular Channel crossings from France to the UK has risen sharply since late 2018.
A French navy patrol ship carried out the first of four rescues on Saturday (April 10) when it picked up 11 migrants off the coast at the small seaside town le Touquet overnight and dropped them off in nearby Boulogne-sur-Mer early in the morning, French news agency AFP reported.
Next, a tugboat rescued another 24 stranded people in the morning, including five children. The third rescue was done by a surveillance speedboat from the maritime gendarmes, which is part of the French navy. It "picked up 30 more people, including a woman and a baby," according to AFP.
The French national sea rescue organization SNSM conducted the fourth rescue, bringing another 19 migrants to safety, including two women and two children. That's according to a press release by the responsible French prefecture.
Key migrant route
Since late 2018, the number of irregular Channel crossings has risen sharply "as migrants try to reach Britain despite dangers linked to heavy shipping traffic, strong currents and low water temperatures," AFP reported.
According to the French coast guard, there were some 9,500 crossings or attempted crossings in 2020 alone, more than four times the previous year's number. Six people died and three went missing trying to cross last year, compared to four dead in 2019.
Earlier this month, a child and four adults were discovered hiding on board a ship bound for Dover. The suspected migrants reportedly told emergency services they were from Morocco. Late last month, French maritime authorities rescued 72 people who were trying to cross the Channel, including 11 children.