Rescuers first came to the aid of 40 shipwrecked people in the night from Friday to Saturday, some of whom were in the water, who had boarded a sinking boat. Significant rescue resources were deployed, including a Belgian police patrol boat and a helicopter.
Saturday morning, 52 exiles were rescued off Pas-de-Calais and brought back to the quay in Calais. Then 50 other people in difficulty in a boat were taken care of and dropped off in Calais, still in the morning.
According to the maritime prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea (Premar), several rescue operations were continuing on Sunday.
The mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, told AFP that some 600 migrants have attempted the crossing since Saturday morning, during “16 events”.
“The smugglers perform very well professionally. They have a great ability to adapt. Despite the presence of the police, it’s still very complex to intercept,” she said.
A fisherman-boater, Olivier Folcke, owner of the boat “Black Bird 2”, told AFP that he had picked up at sea on Sunday three Syrians in their twenties who were unable to board a boat. overloaded and allegedly thrown into the water by smugglers.
Mr. Folcke explains that he saw two boats, one with 25 people, the other where migrants were “fighting”. “And suddenly, the smugglers threw several objects into the water (…) but also three migrants.”
“I recovered these (…) in a state of hypothermia and brought them back as quickly as possible to the port of Calais. At least two of the three were going to drown”, he continues. They were taken care of by firefighters.
The maritime route between France and England is one of the busiest in the world, “with more than 400 commercial ships passing through it per day and the weather conditions are often difficult there”, recalls the Prémar in a press release.
On November 24, 2021, almost a year ago, 27 migrants were killed in the sinking of their boat off Calais, the worst tragedy recorded in the Channel.