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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 April 2019

Two migrant boats intercepted near France

The rescues come days after a Calais official hailed a decline in Channel crossings this year

A drone used by the French border police takes off during a patrol of the beaches at Tardinghen near the northern port city of Calais. AFP
A drone used by the French border police takes off during a patrol of the beaches at Tardinghen near the northern port city of Calais. AFP

Two migrant boats attempting to cross the English Channel from France were intercepted by French authorities within hours of each other on Tuesday.

The first boat carrying nine migrants reported engine failure to the French coast guard around 13 kilometres north of Calais at around 5am local time. The migrants were brought back to Calais and taken care of by border police.

A second boat carrying 10 migrants and two children was intercepted less than two hours later 22 km west of the port city of Boulogne-sur-Mer. Two cases of hypothermia were reported on board the vessel.

French news site La Voix Calais posted an image of one of the recovered boats - a deflated dinghy - to social media.

The rescues come just days after the head of security for the northern Pas-de-Calais region hailed a decline in the number of migrants attempting to cross the Channel to Britain in 2019.

Fabien Sudry said last week that 23 boats carrying around 200 migrants had managed to reach British soil between January and March this year, in comparison with 39 vessels carrying 286 people in the last quarter of 2018.

Mr Sudry said the drop was thanks to tighter border patrols in northern France using helicopters, drones, night vision goggles and motocross bikes along the 80 km stretch of coast.

Last year saw a large hike in the number of migrants, a high proportion of which were from Iran and Iraq, attempting to cross the Channel in small boats.

Around 500 people were known to have attempted crossing the waters separating northern France from southern England, up from just 13 cases in 2017.

Updated: April 9, 2019 06:20 PM

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