British coastguard rescues 19 migrants from the Channel

British coastguard rescues 19 migrants from the Channel

The British coastguard has rescued 19 migrants from the Channel after their inflatable boat began to take on water.

The rigid-hulled inflatable boat (rhib) was located at 2am and the incident handed over to Border Force, the coastguard said in a statement.

The mission included the deployment of a search and rescue helicopter and lifeboats from Dungeness and Littlestone, coastal towns in Kent, south east England.

Calais coastguard organisation SNSM assisted in the operation, according to its president Bernard Barron.

Those on board the rhib reportedly called their families, who then alerted the authorities and rescue missions were triggered on both sides of the Channel.

"This confirms our fears: the smugglers are willing to take extreme measures, but the Channel is a real highway, presenting a great danger for this type of crossing," Mr Barron said.

Four Iranian migrants making a rare attempt to reach Britain by boat from France in February were rescued just in time after their vessel took on water and was close to capsizing.

Rescuers were only alerted after one of the migrants made it back to the beach at Sangatte in northern France before dawn.