France rescues 126 migrants trying to cross the Channel by boat to the United Kingdom

French maritime officials rescued 126 migrants attempting to cross the English Channel into Britain as tensions escalated over record arrivals on the south coast of England.

At least 14,100 people have crossed the English Channel into the UK in small boats this year, according to the British news agency Press Association, some 6,000 more than in all of 2020.

A record 828 people crossed from France in a single day in late August, as smugglers took advantage of the favorable late summer weather.

French maritime authorities said on Saturday that a first boat carrying 43 people, including six women and two babies, was intercepted by a patrol boat after encountering problems.

Forty migrants were rescued in another operation. Another 43 were collected from the waters of the Canal after sending a distress signal.

France has a policy of not intercepting or returning immigrant ships unless they ask for help and instead escorts them to British waters.

That has stoked anger in sections of the British media and the London government that support Brexit, which accuse France of shirking its responsibilities.

>> France warns Great Britain to stay within legal limits on immigration policy

Illegal crossings of the English Channel have skyrocketed since late 2018 despite repeated warnings from French authorities about the dangerous journey, fraught with heavy maritime traffic, icy waters and strong currents.

Since 2018, French authorities have confirmed 11 deaths and three people are missing.

(AFP)

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