Three people have died after a small migrant boat capsized in the English Channel off the coast of Kent, near Dungeness.
A major search and rescue operation involving helicopters and lifeboats was launched at around 3 am and is ongoing, with 43 people rescued alive.
The boat was carrying between 30 to 50 people when it ran into difficulties, according to a French source.
The boat is likely to have been carrying migrants risking the crossing from France, a day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced new measures to stop the boats. The Home Secretary said her “heartfelt thoughts” were with those involved.
“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,” Home Secretary Suella Braverman added.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his sorrow at the incident, telling MPa there had been a tragic loss of human life. The incident comes just hours after Mr Sunak promised to bring in new laws to tackle illegal immigration.
Among a raft of new measures unveiled to curb Channel crossings, the prime minister told MPs on Tuesday, “we have to stop the boats. And this government will do what must be done.”
This latest search and rescue follows a fatal incident in November 2021, when at least 27 migrants died after a dinghy sank while heading to the UK from France.