Six Afghan men in their 30s confirmed dead, several still missing.
49 people rescued by French and British authorities.
Search efforts involve French and British ships, helicopter, and plane.
Six Afghan men were killed when a migrant boat bound for Britain sank in the English Channel in the early hours of Saturday, according to French officials, as the search for those still missing continued.
Philippe Sabatier, deputy public prosecutor for the French coastal city of Boulogne, told sources that all six casualties were Afghan males in their 30s.
He went on to say that the remaining passengers were “almost all Afghans with some Sudanese, mostly adults with some minors.”
According to Sabatier, 49 people were rescued: 36 by the French coastguard and 13 by their British counterparts.
According to the prosecutor’s office, between five and ten passengers were still missing.
Three French ships, a helicopter, and a plane, as well as two British ships, were dispatched to investigate the area off the coast of Sangatte in northern France.
“HM Coastguard is currently assisting the French authorities, Gris Nez, in a search and rescue response to an incident involving a small boat in the Channel,” a representative for the British interior ministry said.
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne also stated that her “thoughts go out to the victims” and commended the rescue forces’ efforts.
A representative for the humanitarian organisation Utopia56 blamed the death on border “repression,” telling AFP that the difficulty of obtaining legal passage merely “increases the dangerousness of crossings and pushes people to take more and more risks to reach England.”
According to the prosecutor, the boat capsized around 2 a.m. off the northern coast of France.
Some of those rescued were seen disembarking from a patrol boat with emergency personnel on board in Calais, according to a reporter.
Official numbers show that over 100,000 migrants have crossed the Channel on small boats from France to southeast England since Britain began publicly registering arrivals in 2018.
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