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Child among 34 migrants plucked from Channel boat

Helped ashore: The migrants
arrive in Dover for questioning

A GROUP of 34 migrants were picked up in a boat off the Kent coast yesterday.

It is understood they were crossing the Channel in a rigid-hulled inflatable boat, with an enclosed cabin on the back.

One witness said he saw at least one child — a boy who looked about six years old, accompanied by a woman.

A lifeboat crew and a Border Force patrol vessel were called out when the migrants were found off the village of Kingsdown.

Coastguard and Border Force officials worked together to bring the group to shore before they were questioned.

They were given blankets and put into vans by Border Force officials in Dover. Three men have been arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.

HM Coastguard said it was ‘committed to safeguarding life around the seas and coastal areas of this country. We are only concerned with preservation of life, rescuing those in trouble and bringing them safely back to shore, where they will be handed over to the relevant partner emergency services or authorities.’

The incident comes after ten suspected migrants were picked up in an inflatable boat near Dover on Friday.

That was the first time migrants are thought to have made the journey since January 21, when 23 were found in two separate incidents. Hundreds of migrants, mostly Iranian, have made the perilous crossing in recent months.

Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke said: ‘This underlines why we urgently need air surveillance day and night along the French coast — to catch the traffickers long before they reach Dover.

‘If we fail to stop people attempting dangerous crossings in small craft, we risk a tragedy in the English Channel.’