At least four people have been confirmed dead after a dinghy containing dozens of migrants capsized in the English Channel early on Wednesday morning, it has been confirmed.
The major incident saw an emergency response by Britain’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which continued into Wednesday lunchtime, and South East Coast Ambulance Service was called at approximately 3.40 a.m. to be on standby to assist.
According to the BBC, the migrant boat capsized on the cusp of the French-U.K. maritime border in the middle of the English Channel, some 50 kilometers off the coast of Dover, England.
A joint response from the U.K. coastguard, the French navy, an air ambulance, and a nearby fishing boat assisted with a rescue operation.
It is understood that 43 people have been saved, with more than 30 of them rescued from the water, according to BBC sources. At least four people, however, are confirmed to have died.
Ashford Hospital in Kent has reportedly been told to clear its Accident and Emergency department to assist the survivors.
It is believed the migrant boat was heading from the European mainland to Britain, despite the sub-zero temperatures being experienced in the region at present.
U.K. Home Secretary Suella Braverman tweeted on Wednesday: “I am aware of a distressing incident in the Channel this morning and I am being kept constantly updated while agencies respond and urgently establish the full facts. My heartfelt thoughts are with all those involved.”
The incident comes a day after U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met with the National Crime Agency and announced new measures to tackle the ongoing migrant crisis on England’s southern coastline, which has seen more than 42,000 people make the perilous journey across the Channel to reach Britain this year.