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At least six migrants from Afghanistan die after boat capsizes in English Channel

At least six migrants from Afghanistan have died and two others are missing after their boat capsized in the English Channel on Saturday, French officials said.

The deputy public prosecutor for the French coastal city of Boulogne, Philippe Sabatier, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that all six fatalities were citizens of Afghanistan, believed to be in their 30s.

He added the rest of the passengers were “almost all Afghans with some Sudanese, mostly adults with some minors” and said 49 survivors were rescued — 36 by the French coastguard and 13 by their British counterparts.

The French state secretary for the sea, Herve Berville, called the shipwreck a “terrible human tragedy.” He said that search efforts would continue until nightfall in the hopes of finding the two missing people.

British Interior Minister Suella Braverman and French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne both expressed their condolences to the victims and their families.

The English Channel is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and strong currents are common. It is a dangerous route for migrants to attempt to cross, and many have died in the attempt in recent years.

According to the AFP report, since 2018, more than 100,000 migrants have crossed the English Channel on small boats from France to the southeast of England. The number of crossings has increased in recent months, with some 755 migrants detected on Thursday on 14 small boats headed for England’s southern coast.

The return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan in August 2021 has led to a significant increase in the number of refugees fleeing the country. Many fear persecution and revenge from the Taliban, and have been forced to take unsafe and illegal routes to reach Europe or other countries. This has often resulted in tragedy, with many refugees losing their lives.