Manslaughter investigation now underway
A Sudanese man in his twenties has died trying to cross the English Channel in freezing conditions, French authorities say.
He fell overboard when a boat ran into trouble shortly after setting off from the coast south of Boulogne in the early hours of Friday morning.
He was found unconscious by French rescue teams and taken to shore, where he was declared dead.
A manslaughter investigation is underway.
Around 30 people were rescued off Berck-sur-Mer, among them several reportedly suffering from hypothermia.
In UK waters, Border Force vessels have been patrolling the Kent coast for much of the day.
Roughly 35 people were seen being escorted ashore in Dover by immigration staff.
The man’s death comes after at least 27 people drowned in the deadliest crossing on record in November, including pregnant women and children.
So far this year, more than 450 people have made the life-threatening trip across the Channel in small boats.
The Home Office is facing legal action over proposals to turn back small boats at sea, a tactic campaigners warn could put lives at risk.
Mike Adamson, chief executive at British Red Cross, said it was “devastating” another person had died.
“Our thoughts are with them and their loved ones – who may not even know yet what has happened,” he said.
He urged the government to rethink plans to make the UK’s asylum system harder to access – and called for new, safe routes and a commitment to resettle 10,000 people a year.
Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s Refugee and Migrant Rights Director, described the man’s death as “avoidable”.
He criticised governments on both sides of the channel for their “refusal… to address the needs and rights of people compelled to attempt these dangerous journeys”.
He added: “Unless it’s drastically amended, the draconian Nationality and Borders Bill now going through Parliament is set to make the lives of people seeking asylum even harsher while allowing smugglers and other abusers to continue to profit from this completely unacceptable situation.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “This tragic loss of life in France today is devastating and our thoughts are with the victim’s family and loved ones.
“It is sadly another reminder of the extreme dangers of crossing the Channel in small boats and of how vital it is that we work closely together with France to prevent people from making these dangerous crossings.”
“The government’s new plan for immigration will fix the broken system to welcome people through safe and legal routes whilst preventing the criminality associated with it.”