Dramatic Mayday call made by French coastguard in bid to rescue 27 migrants who ...

Dramatic Mayday call made by French coastguard in bid to rescue 27 migrants who ...
Dramatic Mayday call made by French coastguard in bid to rescue 27 migrants who ...

This is the dramatic Mayday call made by the French coastguard in a bid to rescue 27 migrants including three children who drowned in the Channel yesterday. 

In the call, the radio operator gives coordinates of the emergency, says approximately 15 people are in the water, and asks nearby vessels to attend.   

'Mayday relay, mayday relay, mayday relay. This is Gris-Nez emergency, Griz-Nez emergency, Gris-Nez emergency,' the operator says. 'Information number one: Mayday. 15 man overboard, approximately. 15 man overboard.

'All ships in this area are requested to have a south lookout to proceed to this area to take contact and report any information to Gris-Nez emergency co-ordinating this operation.' 

Two survivors – an Iraqi and a Somalian – have told police their poorly made dinghy was hit by a container ship, puncturing its thin rubber hull and sinking the vessel, taking dozens of lives.

Lifeboat volunteer Charles Devos, who was one of the first people to arrive at the scene, described the grim moment he pulled six bodies from water in scene 'like Titanic'. 

Mr Devos, the regional manager of life boat association (SNSM) in Calais, told Sky News: 'It's very, very shocking. It was a bit like the film Titanic when you saw all these people plunged into the water, drowning, with no means of being able to be rescued. Unfortunately we were only able to recover the dead people.'

It comes after the first picture of the doomed dinghy, described by Mr Devos as 'an inflatable, very light boat that was around 10m long', that sunk just off Calais yesterday afternoon in the worst migrant tragedy in Anglo-French history emerged today.   

The 'flimsy' and 'very frail' grey inflatable boat was photographed by a lifeboat captain who arrived to find bodies floating in the water. 

Mr Devos said: 'I saw the blow-up boat had really deflated. Was it a valve that came loose or did it hit an object? You never know but I don't think it was a collision. I think it happened due to overloading. Don't forget, you think the sea is calm. The sea isn't calm because it's nearly always choppy.'   

He added: 'It's not the first time I've boarded this type of boat. It's really light boats that are overwhelmed. The tragedy came about because the boat was overwhelmed. Boats that transport 20 people, we find them with around 50 people on them'.  

Five people have been arrested in France over the 27 deaths, including one man held overnight driving a German-registered vehicle packed with inflatable ribs, although there is 'no provable link' with the sinking, according to prosecutors, despite French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin insisting all were 'directly linked' to the drownings.

And as Emmanuel Macron was urged to get a grip, French police again failed to stop a group of around asylum seekers crossing the Channel on two boats in choppy conditions this morning. They were brought shivering into a freezing Dover by the RNLI at dawn.

Small groups of officers were seen patrolling beaches close to Calais this morning but again failed to prevent dozens setting off for the UK in dinghies amid claims in Britain that the French have been sitting on their hands as 17 men, seven women - one of whom was pregnant - and three children died yesterday.

Meanwhile, migrants in Calais told MailOnline today that they are more determined than ever to reach the UK despite 27 people drowning crossing the Channel yesterday - as people traffickers slashed their prices to fill their deathtrap dinghies to Britain. 

Boris Johnson, Mr Macron and their ministers are expected to hold more talks today as the Prime Minister insisted that British boots are needed on the ground in France to stop evil slave gangs 'getting away with murder'. 

Tory MPs including former Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick today told Macron it is 'within his gift' to end the migrant Channel crossings crisis while Priti Patel told the House of Commons at lunchtime that she had repeated the offer to send British personnel to France to conduct joint patrols. Her comments came as MPs told her Britain 'can't wait for the French' and must act. 

As relations between the UK and France become increasingly fraught, Macron's minister in charge of the crisis, Gerald Darmanin, today blamed Britain for the crisis and claimed migrants are promised 'Eldorado in England' by people traffickers because of its suite of benefits and 'attractive' labour market.

Mr Macron is said to have ignored the renewed offer for help with patrols during his call with the PM last night with the French President, who insists he won't let the Channel to 'be turned into a cemetery', again accused by critics of allowing a bitterness over Brexit for his failure to tackle migrant traffickers.

Speaking on a trip to Croatia this morning, Macron hit back at critics claiming France is not doing enough. He said police have been 'working day and night' since the start of the crisis to stop boats - and have 'never had more' officers patrolling the coast. He said 'our mobilisation is total as far as I'm concerned'.  

As the blame game between Britain and France continues, it also emerged today:

Britain will again offer to send police, border staff and even the Army to beaches in northern France but Macron is expected to resist for political and legal reasons; Former communities secretary Robert Jenrick said it is 'within the gift of the president of France to bring this to an end now'; Boss of the port of Calais says Britain must stump up more cash to help with searches for migrants trying to cross; The deadly boat tragedy triggered an outpouring of anger in France with the Mayor of Calais blasting Mr Macron's government for failing to tackle the 'mafia style' smuggling gangs; Calais's MP said that migrants must be moved from Calais to the middle of France even if force was necessary, to try to stop the crossings;  French police have arrested a fifth alleged ringleader of people trafficking gang charging £3,300 for a space on a death trap boat. But prosecutors believe there is no 'provable link' between them and the tragedy off Calais;

This is the first picture of the flimsy and dangerous dinghy that sank off Calais yesterday, killing 27 people including seven women - one of whom was pregnant - and three children

This is the first picture of the flimsy and dangerous dinghy that sank off Calais yesterday, killing 27 people including seven women - one of whom was pregnant - and three children

Police stop a bus load of migrants already wearing life jacket Calais after the Channel tragedy

Police stop a bus load of migrants already wearing life jacket Calais after the Channel tragedy

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by the RNLI, following a small boat incident in the Channel after 27 people died yesterday

Migrants walk on to the jetty at Dover after arriving in Britain as relations between the UK and France become increasingly tense over the migrant crisis in the Channel

Migrants walk on to the jetty at Dover after arriving in Britain as relations between the UK and France become increasingly tense over the migrant crisis in the Channel

The Dover lifeboat brings in more migrants who have crossed the Channel at dawn despite the deaths of 27 people yesterday

The Dover lifeboat brings in more migrants who have crossed the Channel at dawn despite the deaths of 27 people yesterday

Police patrol a beach near Calais as the French authorities again failed to stop migrants travelling to the UK

Police patrol a beach near Calais as the French authorities again failed to stop migrants travelling to the UK 

A team of French police looked around the dunes of a beach this morning as they were accused of failing to tackle the issue

A team of French police looked around the dunes of a beach this morning as they were accused of failing to tackle the issue

Migrants at a new Camp in Grand-Synthe near Dunkirk, France this afternoon, a day after 27 migrants drowned trying to get to the UK

Migrants at a new Camp in Grand-Synthe near Dunkirk, France this afternoon, a day after 27 migrants drowned trying to get to the UK

Migrants at a new Camp in Grand-Synthe near Dunkirk. Small groups of officers were seen patrolling beaches close to Calais this morning but again failed to prevent dozens setting off for the UK in dinghies

Migrants at a new Camp in Grand-Synthe near Dunkirk. Small groups of officers were seen patrolling beaches close to Calais this morning but again failed to prevent dozens setting off for the UK in dinghies

Migrants set up camp on a railway line in Grande-Synthe near Calais today after police smashed their previous camp

Migrants set up camp on a railway line in Grande-Synthe near Calais today after police smashed their previous camp

Migrants in Calais told MailOnline today that they are more determined than ever to reach the UK despite 27 people drowning crossing the Channel yesterday - as people traffickers slashed their prices to fill their deathtrap dinghies to Britain

Migrants in Calais told MailOnline today that they are more determined than ever to reach the UK despite 27 people drowning crossing the Channel yesterday - as people traffickers slashed their prices to fill their deathtrap dinghies to Britain

People claiming to be from Iran , Iraq , Syria and Afghanistan say that the chance of settling in the UK is worth facing the danger of dying getting to Dover

People claiming to be from Iran , Iraq , Syria and Afghanistan say that the chance of settling in the UK is worth facing the danger of dying getting to Dover

Police in Calais detain a number of migrants wearing lifejackets after removing them from a bus before they tried to cross to the UK

Police in Calais detain a number of migrants wearing lifejackets after removing them from a bus before they tried to cross to the UK

Migrants wrapped in blankets on the docks at Dover this morning after getting to the UK from France by dinghy

Migrants wrapped in blankets on the docks at Dover this morning after getting to the UK from France by dinghy

The RNLI has been left to pick up boats when they enter UK waters with 6,000 migrants crossing in November alone

The RNLI has been left to pick up boats when they enter UK waters with 6,000 migrants crossing in November alone

Empty recovered dinghies used for previous crossings are seen at Dover harbour earlier today after 27 migrants died yesterday

Empty recovered dinghies used for previous crossings are seen at Dover harbour earlier today after 27 migrants died yesterday

27 people drowned just off Calais yesterday afternoon, sparking a war of words between Britain and France

27 people drowned just off Calais yesterday afternoon, sparking a war of words between Britain and France

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

French President Emmanuel Macron

Boris Johnson (left) has told Emmanuel Macron (right today in Zagreb) that British boots are needed on the ground in France to stop evil slave gangs 'getting away with murder' after at least 27 migrants drowned in the deadliest-ever Channel crossing

UK received 37,562 asylum applications in the past year - highest number since 2004

Asylum claims made in the UK have risen to their highest level for nearly 20 years, according to new figures from the Home Office.

The backlog of cases waiting to be dealt with is also at a record high.

A total of 37,562 applications were made in the year to September - more than in any 12-month period since the year to June 2004 (39,746) and higher than the numbers seen at the peak of the European migration crisis in 2015 and 2016 (36,546).

The latest figure is up 18% on the year to September 2020 (31,966), although this will have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic amid restrictions on movement. There were 35,737 applications for the same period in 2019.

A total of 67,547 asylum applications were awaiting a decision at the end of September - up 41% year-on-year and the highest since current records began in June 2010.

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France said on Thursday it was mobilising reservists and beefing up sea rescue operations with drones to 'watch the coastline'. 

French interior minister Mr Darmanin said: 'It is Britain's attractiveness which is to blame, including its labour market. Everybody knows that there are up to 1.2 million clandestine migrants in the UK and English business leaders use that workforce to produce things that are consumed by the English'. 

He told French radio network RTL that the smugglers are 'criminals, people who exploit the misery of others, of women and children - there were pregnant women, children who died yesterday on that boat... and for a few thousand euros they promise them 'Eldorado in England'.  

More people making the perilous journey across the Channel have been brought ashore in the UK following the deadliest day of the current migrant crisis.

A group wearing life jackets and wrapped in blankets were seen huddled together on board an RNLI lifeboat before disembarking in Dover on Thursday morning, just a day after a dinghy capsized off the coast of Calais, causing the loss of dozens of lives.

Calais MP Pierre-Henri Dumont has said Macron must reject Britain's offer of boots on the ground in France, saying: 'That wouldn't work. It would require thousands of people. And there is also a question of sovereignty. I'm not sure the British people would accept the other way round if the French army was patrolling the British shore'.

Officials today demanded even more money from the UK taxpayer to stem the flow of thousands of migrants across the Channel each month as the blame game between Paris and London over the deaths of 27 people.  

As 6,000 crossed to Britain in November alone, the boss of the ports of Calais and Boulogne has insisted that Britain must start paying more on top of the £54million they give to France each year to stop people getting there by dinghy or hidden in lorries. 

Jean-Marc Puissesseau said: 'We are obliged to control each lorry to make sure there are no migrants inside. We do it for not a penny. It is gratis for your country, it costs the Port of Calais, 8 million (euros) a year to control and I want that to be discussed again with your government. That was signed when the UK was in the Europe and has no place'. 

Natacha Bouchart, the Mayor of Calais, blamed attractive benefits in Britain for the crisis. She said: 'I say that enough is enough. The British government has imposed immigration control on our territory for the last 20 years. It has never had the courage to control this immigration back home. You have to react, react quickly to make it all stop.'   

Britain wants boots on the ground in France but Macron won't be 'forced', says Britain's Immigration Minister, who doesn't rule out turning dinghies back

Immigration Minister Kevin Foster insists that Britain is 'keen' to put boots on the ground in France - but admits the cannot 'force' Macron to do it.

Asked on BBC Breakfast how the UK's approach was likely to change after at least 27 migrants died when their small boat capsized off the French coast, Kevin Foster said: 'The first thing, is working with France.

'We have offered resources, we are happy to support their operations on the beach.

'We have already agreed £54 million, we're happy to look at doing more.

'We're also prepared to offer resources beyond (that) – like yesterday, we deployed a helicopter at their request to help with the search and rescue operation, so we're not just offering cash. It is in no-one's interest for this to continue.'

Mr Foster added: 'We're prepared to offer support on the ground, we're prepared to offer resources, we're prepared to offer, literally, people to go there and assist the French authorities.'

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Ahead of talks with Home Secretary Priti Patel, French interior minister Mr Darmanin said the loss of 27 lives was an 'absolute tragedy' as he blamed human trafficking gangs who promised people the 'El Dorado of England' for a large fee.

He told French radio network RTL that since the start of the year, police and rescuers there have saved 7,800 people in French waters in the Channel.

The minister did not have further information about the circumstances of the boat's capsizing, or the victims' nationalities, but said the two survivors were Somali and Iraqi and had been treated for severe hypothermia.

The politician again pointed the finger of blame at human trafficking gangs, saying they are 'criminals, people who exploit the misery of others, of women and children - there were pregnant women, children who died yesterday on that boat... and for a few thousand euros they promise them 'Eldorado in England'. 'And sadly, this has been repeated every day for the last 20 years'.

Four alleged people smugglers thought to be connected with the disaster were arrested by police north of Dunkirk, near the France-Belgian border, on Wednesday evening after tragedy struck shortly around 2pm.

Five women and a girl were believed to be among the casualties, with the disaster coming just hours of French police sat and watched boats leave their shore. 

An 'overloaded' boat capsized in rough seas amid rain and cold weather and was found by fishermen, with three coastguard vessels and a helicopter rushed to the scene.  

The 27 deaths are the biggest single-day loss of life from migrant crossings in the Channel, with the previous grim record believed to be a family of five Kurdish-Iranians who drowned in October last year. Before the accident, a total of 14 people had drowned this year trying to make it to Britain. 

Mr Johnson chaired an emergency Cobra meeting on Wednesday afternoon as a search and rescue effort continued after the disaster amid anger from Tory MPs over soaring numbers of migrant crossings from France - with nearly 27,000 landing on the south coast this year.

Fifth smugglers arrested over deaths of 27 people after he was caught buying inflatable boats in Germany and driving them into France

A fifth suspect has been arrested in connection with the migrant boat that sank in the English Channel, killing at least 27 people, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Thursday.

Seventeen men, seven women and three minors died when the boat sank off the northern coast of France on Wednesday, according to public prosecutors in Lille. Four suspected people smugglers had already been arrested on Wednesday afternoon, Darmanin said.

The minister told the RTL broadcaster that the fifth suspect's car was registered in Germany and that he had bought inflatable Zodiac boats in Germany.

Prosecutors in the northern city of Lille have opened an investigation against the five for homicide and bodily harm, membership in a criminal gang, and aiding in the illegal crossing of borders.

Darmanin said France had arrested 1,500 people smugglers since the start of the year.

He said they 'operate like mafia organisations', using encryption to stop police tapping their phone conversations.

But there was confusion this afternoon after French prosecutors said the five suspects have 'no provable link' with the sinking.

The men – who have not been identified – were on Thursday morning in custody and facing manslaughter charges in connection with Wednesday's disaster.

But on Thursday afternoon, Lille prosecutors confirmed that there was nothing to connect them with the fatal attempted passage to Britain.

'The enquiry into these alleged smugglers was originally led by Dunkirk prosecutors, but it was transferred to Lille,' said an investigating source.

'Early enquiries do not connect to the Calais tragedy,' the source added, without expanding further.

This is despite French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin earlier revealing that at least one of the suspects had bought small inflatable boats from Germany and that all were 'directly linked' to the drownings.

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Meanwhile, the French President also called for an emergency meeting of European ministers, the BBC reported, as he vowed: 'France will not let the Channel become a cemetery.' Mr Macron later urged Mr Johnson in a phone call to stop Britain's politicisation of migrant flows for domestic gain, the Elysee Palace said. 

Migrants in Calais told MailOnline today that they are more determined than ever to reach the UK despite 27 people drowning crossing the Channel yesterday - as people traffickers slashed their prices to fill their deathtrap dinghies to Britain.

People claiming to be from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan say that the chance of settling in the UK is worth facing the danger of dying getting to Dover with one declaring: 'We don't have a life. We want to live like you in the UK'.

Those still willing to risk their lives in rough November seas revealed that their budget boats had also burst off the coast, but they were rescued before anyone drowned. Yesterday's tragedy has seen smugglers slash 500 euros off the price of a one-way trip to Kent.

It came as the first picture of the doomed dinghy that deflated just off the coast of France emerged as French police again failed to stop 50 migrants crossing the Channel to Britain today. 17 men, seven women - one of whom was pregnant - and three children died yesterday.

Five people have been arrested in France over the 27 deaths, including one man held overnight driving a German-registered vehicle packed with inflatable ribs, although there is 'no provable link' with the sinking, according to prosecutors, despite French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin insisting all were 'directly linked' to the drownings. 

Thousands of migrants are in the Calais region hoping to get to the UK by Christmas, and speaking in France, a Kurdish computer programmer called Kochar, 25, told MailOnline: 'It is not going to stop people from wanting to come to England. Everything in life is a risk, and it is worth a big risk to get to England'.

Another Iraqi Kurd called Aram, 41, said: 'There are some people who will be put off if they think they are going to die, but most people have no choice. We have to try to get to England.

'I will get on a boat some time. It might be this week or it might be next. I got a call from my friend who told me about the people who had died. I did not know any of them.'

The migrants told how heartless people traffickers have slashed their prices for a place in a boat across by 500 euros since news of the tragedy filtered through to people living in makeshift camps around Grandy-Synthe near Dunkirk.

Those hoping for a new life in the UK told MailOnline that the fare for a place in an open dinghy had been reduced from 2,500 euros to 2,000 euros.

Kochar said: 'Last week it was costing 2,500 euros to get a place. But last night I heard it had been discounted by 500 euros. It looks like the price has come down because of these people who have died. The people smugglers are worried about losing business – so they want to give a better deal'.

'It is within Macron's gift to end this now': Tory MPs demand the French President accept the UK's offer of police to conduct joint beach patrols

Tory MPs today told Emmanuel Macron it is 'within his gift' to end the migrant Channel crossings crisis as they demanded he accept an offer from the UK to deploy British police officers on French beaches to stop the journeys.

Former Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick said the French President could 'bring this to an end now' as his Tory colleague Sir Iain Duncan Smith called on the Government to exert the 'greatest pressure' possible on Paris to do more.

Priti Patel told the House of Commons at lunchtime that she had repeated the offer to send British personnel to France to conduct joint patrols during talks with French Minister for the Interior Gerald Darmanin.

The Home Secretary said 'we absolutely encourage them and urge them to take these offers forward'.

Her comments came after Mr Macron insisted France is 'totally mobilised' to stop migrants crossing the Channel and warned Boris Johnson not to 'exploit' the latest devastating tragedy - as allies swiped at the UK's 'minimal' contribution.

The French President rejected criticism that patrols are too lax, saying the authorities were on watch 'day and night' - as he demanded stronger international cooperation to help tackle the deadly trafficking issue. 

After warning Mr Johnson in a call last night not to use the situation for 'political ends', Mr Macron said Paris is going to request 'extra help' from the UK - arguing that migrants 'don't want to stay' in France to claim asylum even though they are told they can.

Mr Darmanin warned ahead of talks with Ms Patel that smugglers were promising desperate asylum seekers an 'El Dorado' of jobs and benefits in the UK.

The Home Secretary said in a Commons statement that she had offered to Mr Darmanin during talks to 'put more officers on the ground and do absolutely whatever is necessary to secure the area so that vulnerable people do not risk their lives by getting into unseaworthy boats'.

Ms Patel said the small boat journeys across the Channel are 'lethally dangerous' and while 'what happened yesterday was a dreadful shock, it was not a surprise'.

Warning that there is no 'quick fix' to the situation, the Home Secretary said the UK is already 'undertaking a wide range of operational and diplomatic work' to stop the crossings but she stressed 'we cannot do it alone'.  

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Aram said: 'I heard that the price had come down today. You hear messages from everyone. I am glad it has happened. It is still far too expensive.'

Ali, 23, is also from Iraq. He said he has been in France for more than a month, adding: 'There's people here from Turkey, Belarus.

'We don't have a life. We want to live like you in the UK.

'You only have one life. People are trying and they die or have a chance to get past (the Channel.)

Speaking about Wednesday's deaths, he said: 'They had no chance to pass, but we maybe do.'

A group of men were found sheltering across from a supermarket in Grande-Synthe.

Shivan, 22, told the PA news agency he had gone to France from Iraq. He said he has no living family and added: 'We are waiting for our transport. No one has told us when we will be collected.

'We wait and people come and go. We don't have anywhere, so just sleep here.'

Shivan said he wants to go to the UK because there is a 'better life.'

He said: 'We just want to live. We're not scared to cross; it's better to cross. To get to the UK it's about 15,000 euro. Maybe some people can get there for 2,000 euros, it depends.'

He said he found his way to France by 'asking people' in Turkey.

The beaches north of Wimereux near Calais which has been repeatedly used as a launching point for migrant boats in recent weeks, were quiet this morning with no boats being launched.

It is believed that people smugglers were put off mainly by strong northerly winds which would have been whipping up waves out to sea, although the sea appeared calm from the beach.

The beaches were patrolled throughout last night by teams of French police who searched the sand dunes with powerful torches.

The officers were also seen driving up and down neighbouring sandy beaches in a VW pick up truck, equipped with floodlights.

Officers in the same truck were filmed standing an watching earlier yesterday as a large group of migrants carried their inflatable on to a beach and launched into the sea.

Two French Navy patrol boats called Abeille Languedoc and Aramis patrolled around two miles off shore as dawn broke.

A local resident who was walking on the beach said: 'I heard from some officers that they wanted to stop boats today after all the people died.'

MailOnline found the remains of one 40ft long boat abandoned halfway down a cliff after it apparently deflated while being carried towards the beach.

Lying inside it was an instruction manual written in English for a 2 stroke outboard engine, raising the possibility that engines for migrant boats might have been shipped from UK suppliers

The heavily waterlogged 34 page manual included full instructions and tips on operating T series engines made by a variety of manufacturers, as well as questions and answers for tackling faults.

The engine which would have been attached to a wooden block at the rear of the boat had been salvaged, possibly to be used on another trip.

The wrecked boat with plywood floor panels was of a similar type to the black inflatable boats which MailOnline saw being launched from the same beaches near Wimereux last week.

Boat manufacturers in the UK say that that the huge inflatables have no commercial purpose other than for transporting migrants, and have speculated that they are being illicitly made to order in China for people smuggling gangs.

A large damaged inflatable boat Wimereux in Northern France today after another rhib laid on for migrants by traffickers popped

A large damaged inflatable boat Wimereux in Northern France today after another rhib laid on for migrants by traffickers popped

Outboard motors, life jackets and sleeping bags were also abandoned by migrants on the beach near the Slack dunes

Outboard motors, life jackets and sleeping bags were also abandoned by migrants on the beach near the Slack dunes

French police look at a map of the coast at Wimereux, north of Boulogne in northern France, at a stretch of beach believed to be used by migrants looking to cross the English Channel

French police look at a map of the coast at Wimereux, north of Boulogne in northern France, at a stretch of beach believed to be used by migrants looking to cross the English Channel

Migrants who were found soaked after a failed attempt to cross the Channel walk out from a shelter and take a bus to a warm place, in the rue des huttes in Calais this morning

Migrants who were found soaked after a failed attempt to cross the Channel walk out from a shelter and take a bus to a warm place, in the rue des huttes in

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