Author: Martine Berg Olsen
Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2018/09/02/asylum-seekers-drifted-in-english-channel-for-two-days-before-they-were-rescued-7907030/?ito=cbshare
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Four asylum seekers have been rescued after ‘drifting in the English Channel for two days’. The captain of a charter fishing boat has told how he spotted them in a small dingy, which was half full of water, off the coast of Dover around 10.30am on Saturday.
Matt Coker, 37, said the three ‘distressed’ men and one woman had tied a red T-shirt to an oar to attract his attention, three miles off the Goodwin Sands in Kent.
The Royal Charlotte skipper said his fishing crew pulled them aboard and administered first aid before calling the Coastguard. Mr Coker said: ‘We were on our way out on a fishing trip and we noticed a small, little tiny dinghy on the horizon and I tried to look with the binoculars and I could see people in it and didn’t think much of it.
But as we got closer… they see us and suddenly started waving. ‘I had another look with the binoculars and I could see they were actually waving the oars and they tied a red T-shirt on to an oar and were waving that. ‘So then I motored over to see who it might be, because they were clearly in distress, but in the back of my mind I thought this could actually be asylum seekers or it could be someone who’s drifted off the beach. ‘As I got over to them I could see they were clearly in distress and the boat was half full of water, so they sort of made a leap for the boat as we got near.
‘Luckily I had 12 passengers on and they grabbed hold of them and we got them aboard pretty quick and then we got the boat aboard, which was a little inflatable dinghy.’
Mr Coker said the four people, believed to be from Iran and aged between 27 and 37, didn’t speak English. He added: ‘They didn’t speak any English but they kept saying “Iran” because I was asking where they had come from and if they were okay.’
Mr Coker said he initiated first aid and tried to look after them, while they waited for Border Force to arrive. He added: ‘They boarded the boat, interviewed them and took them away.’
A Home Office spokesman confirmed: ‘On Saturday morning Border Force received a call from the UK Coastguard regarding a small inflatable boat off the coast of Dover.
‘A coastal patrol vessel was deployed and the four people on board have been brought to Dover, where they will be processed in line with the immigration rules.’