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Dozens of migrants rescued from boat off Dover coast

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Author: Alix Culbertson, news reporter

Dozens of migrants have been rescued from a small boat off the Dover coast.

The RNLI sent two of its rescue boats, while three Border Force vessels took part in the rescue of 34 migrants near the port of Dover in Kent.

Aided by the lifeboats, the migrants were seen being helped onto a Border Force rigid inflatable boat (RIB), that was a similar size to their boat.

They were then moved onto a Border Force cutter, the HMC Vigilant.

The Border Force RIB had to make two trips to collect the migrants as their boat was so crowded.

They were then taken to shore where some of the migrants covered their heads with sheets provided to keep them warm as they walked onto dry land.

Immigration officers in hi-vis jackets could be seen questioning the migrants as they walked up a long ramp from the boat.

An RNLI spokesman said: “We can confirm that our lifeboats at Dungeness and Dover have launched today.”

The Home Office confirmed Border Force was “dealing with an ongoing small boat incident off the Kent coast”.

It is not yet known where the migrants are from but as they were rescued from British waters, they will be dealt with by British officials.

The Home Office said: “A group of 34 people, made up of men, women and children, were brought to Dover, where they were medically assessed and believed to be well, before being transferred to immigration officials for interview.

“Their nationalities have not yet been confirmed.

“Three men have been arrested by Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) officers on suspicion of immigration offences.”

The migrants’ arrival comes after a sharp rise in December in the numbers being picked up by UK authorities while trying to cross the English Channel in small boats.

It prompted the government to declare a “major incident” in the Channel.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said 230 migrants had tried to cross the Channel in December, with just under half prevented from leaving the country by the French authorities.

Dozens were intercepted in the Channel in December, including 12 men on two boats brought to shore at Dover on 21 December and another 40 migrants detected on Christmas Day.

Mr Javid brought back two patrol vessels from overseas as part of efforts to stem the number of attempted crossings.

Source: https://news.sky.com/story/up-to-19-migrants-rescued-from-boat-off-dover-coast-sky-sources-11641197

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