English Channel: Number of people rescued from inflatable boat
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A British fisherman working in the early hours of Wednesday morning was woken up by migrants “screaming for help” as they clung to the side of his boat. At least four migrants died on Wednesday attempting to cross the English Channel after the boat all but sunk, with 43 people successfully rescued. Skipper Raymond found himself in the middle of chaos after he was woken up by a member of his crew, who told him that there were migrants “hanging off the wire” of his boat. After his team kicked into rescue mode, they saved all 31 people holding onto their vessel.
Skipper Raymond said: “One guy was hanging off my wire. I thought at first it was just him, and once I got my fishing gear up – which took about three minutes – I stopped my boat and ran outside and along the port side there were five of them hanging off the side of my boat.”
After the first five were successfully pulled aboard, Raymond said many others stranded near the sinking dinghy swam towards him.
“It was like something out of a second world war movie, there were people in the water everywhere, screaming,” he said.
In footage shared with Sky News, the migrants can be seen frantically trying to scramble up the side of the boat, while dozens others are huddled in the sinking middle of the dinghy.
Skipper Ramond said: “The dinghy started to drift away, so I steamed towards the dinghy and we secured it with a rope to the side of the boat. We were trying to pull them off the dinghy.”
Raymond’s crew, after calling the UK coastguard around 3am, then spent two hours hauling people from the water. He said: “Adrenaline kicks in and you find the strength to get these guys safe.”
Tragically, however, after heroically saving the lives of 31 migrants, believing they had completed the unexpected rescue mission, they discovered the body of one migrant on the starboard side of their boat.
He said: “One of the crew shouted, woah, there’s a rope on the starboard side of the boat. The next thing I knew this rope was attached to a dead body.
“We had been concentrating on the port side and this one person had swum to the starboard side, tied a rope onto my fishing gear and tied it around his wrist to keep himself alongside the boat. When I put my boat into gear his body floated up.”
A government source said 43 people have been rescued alive and brought to the UK, with four confirmed dead.
After being pulled from the water, Raymond said he gave everyone a “lukewarm shower”, to slowly warm them back up.
He said: “We stripped all their wet clothes off, and my crew gave them any clothes they had to keep them warm.
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“We put them in beds to keep them warm, with quilts, to get there body temperature up slowly. It was very lucky that the sea conditions were good. It was very cold.
“When we got into Dover, a medical came down and checked on them and he couldn’t believe how good a condition they were in, none of them had any hypothermia. I just see it as saving human life.”
He added that every migrant that he spoke to told him they had paid £5,000 each for a smuggler in France for passage into the UK.
He said those he rescued came from Afghanistan, Iraq, Senegal and India.
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