LILLE: Forty-five migrants “including a pregnant woman and children” were rescued Saturday in the English Channel after their improvised boat found itself “in trouble” off Dunkirk, French authorities said.
Several of the people “appeared to be in a state of hypothermia” after being brought aboard a patrol ship, the French prefecture in charge of the Channel and North Sea said in a statement.
First responders and border police took charge of the migrants, who were “all safe and sound” when they were put ashore in Calais in the early evening, it added.
Calm weather this weekend prompted fears among French sea rescuers that larger numbers than usual would attempt the crossing to Britain, a source close to emergency services told AFP.
With busy traffic and powerful winds and currents, the Channel crossing can prove extremely dangerous for small boats despite the apparent short distance between Calais and British port Dover.
In late October, four people died and three were reported missing, devastating an Iranian-Kurdish family in the deadliest single incident for migrants attempting to cross the Channel.
Increasing numbers of people have attempted the sea crossing from France to Britain since 2018.
On Saturday, the two countries signed a deal aimed at shutting down the route, which calls for French patrols to be doubled and for radar and drones to be used to spot migrant boats earlier.