Fury as evil people smugglers switch to even cheaper and worse Channel dinghies

James Cleverly has declared the Government “must and will do more” to end the small boat crisis after more migrants died attempting to cross the Channel on Friday.

At least eight asylum seekers have died this year on four separate crossings.

One woman is said to have drowned after a dinghy carrying around 60 people deflated in the early hours of Friday morning. Another migrant died as their boat packed with 80 people turned.

The Daily Express understands smugglers are forcing migrants into even flimsier, larger dinghies than before.

Sources suggested this is because law enforcement agencies are seizing more boats, which are often made in China or Turkey.

This has led to criminals seeking to protect their profits by placing “bulk” orders of inflatable boats that migrants can pump up within ten minutes on the beaches.

One woman drowned on Thursday night after a dinghy carrying 66 people sank. Another migrant was lifted from the water and rushed to hospital in a critical condition.

Another two are feared dead as they have been reported missing. The Daily Express has been told the two missing migrants are from Iraqi-Kurdistan and their families have not been able to contact them.

The Home Secretary said in a post on X: “The incident in the Channel last night is a horrific reminder of the people smugglers’ brutality. 25,000 people have been averted from crossing this year – but we must and will do more.

“My thanks to all those involved in the rescue. Every boat stopped is a potential life saved.”

Another migrant is understood to have died after a second inflatable dinghy sank near Sangatte beach, Calais just after 7:30am.

The vessel was carrying around 80 asylum seekers, the French regional newspaper La Voix du Nord reported.

As the boat turned, a number of people were thrown into the water.

French emergency crews treated children suffering from hypothermia and rescuers had to perform CPR on a man who was submerged in the water and had gone into cardiac arrest, before taking him to hospital.

The migrant, who is understood to be around 25-years-old, was in a “life-threatening” condition.

France’s Maritime Prefect has since confirmed he died, according to La Voix du Nord.

The clothes of some of the migrants on board the vessel were reportedly soaked with gasoline which had escaped from jerrycans.

Officials expect the crackdown on boats and engines to force smugglers into seeking even more dangerous and cheap materials for their boats.

Seizures are squeezing smugglers’ profits and extra police patrols along the French beaches have left the criminals with fewer opportunities to launch boats.

Border Force experts have compared the material used for the dinghies to the plastic found in children’s bouncy castles.

It is then held together with plywood and powered by an engine which cannot be legally sold in Europe.

A source said: “Are the boats getting flimsier? Yes they are. This is a sign that the stuff we are doing is working.

“When this started, there was a pretty reasonable standard of boat.

“When it became a people smuggling operation, it has got to the point where you just need lots of them quickly.

“They have been buying really, really cheap boats – not suitable – and boats of a size where they can get as many people as possible in. They buy them in bulk from China.”

More than 60 people were on board the boat as it began to deflate around 8km (five miles) off the northern coast of France in the early hours of Friday morning, the French coastguard said.

The first group of people were pulled from the water at 1.15am local time (12.15am GMT) in the French-led operation, with a total of 66 rescued and taken to safety within an hour.

Two people were found unconscious. One female casualty could not be resuscitated and a second person was flown by helicopter to a Calais hospital in a life-threatening condition, the French coastguard said.

French authorities confirmed two people had died in a similar incident off the coast of France last month.

More than 29,000 migrants have arrived in the UK this year after crossing the Channel. This is the second highest annual total to date since records began in 2018.

It comes as the Government presses on with plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda in a bid to curb Channel crossings.

Earlier this week Rishi Sunak indicated he is open to making changes to his Rwanda Bill if they can be backed up by “respectable” legal arguments, in a bid to quell dissent among Tory MPs.

The Prime Minister won a crunch vote with a 44-strong majority in the Commons on his emergency draft law aimed at reviving the stalled policy to deport migrants to the east African country’s capital, Kigali.

The Refugee Council’s chief executive Enver Solomon said it was “yet another terrible and avoidable tragedy”.

A UK Government spokesman said: “We can confirm there has been an incident in the Channel involving a small boat in French waters that has tragically resulted in a loss of life.

“French authorities are leading the response and investigation. We will not be commenting further at this stage – our thoughts are with those involved and their families.”

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