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As 40 children die in the Mediterranean, migrants are rescued crossing from France to England

Up to 700 people are believed to have died crossing the Mediterranean this week.

Five coffins lie on the ground after being disembarked from the Italian Navy ship Bettica.
Five coffins lie on the ground after being disembarked from the Italian Navy ship Bettica.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE BRITISH COASTGUARD said it rescued 19 migrants on Sunday from the Channel after their inflatable boat began to take on water.

“The rhib (rigid-hulled inflatable boat), with 19 people on board was located at 2.00am and the incident handed over to Border Force,” it said in a statement.

The mission included the deployment of a search and rescue helicopter and lifeboats from Dungeness and Littlestone, coastal towns in Kent, south east England.

Calais coastguard organisation SNSM assisted in the operation, according to its president Bernard Barron.

“We were called for help… with a boat carrying about twenty people between Calais and Dover,” he said.

“The castaways, who were migrants, called their families, who then alerted the authorities and rescue missions were triggered on both sides of the Channel,” he said, adding that a helicopter had been deployed from Le Touquet, north west France.

Turkey Germany Nato Thermal imaging cameras are used by the German navy near Turkey. Source: Markus Schreiber/AP

“This confirms our fears: the smugglers are willing to take extreme measures, but the Channel is a real highway, presenting a great danger for this type of crossing,” he said.

Four Iranian migrants making a rare attempt to reach Britain by boat from France in February were rescued just in time after their vessel took on water and was close to capsizing.

Rescuers were only alerted after one of the migrants made it back to the beach at Sangatte in northern France before dawn.

Italy Migrants An estimated 700 people died crossing the Mediterranean this wek. Source: AP/Press Association Images

40 children

The rescue of the migrants in the English Channel comes in a week of  shipwrecks and death in the Mediterranean.

The tragedies culminated today with harrowing testimony from migrant survivors who said another 500 people including 40 children had drowned, bringing the number of feared dead to 700.

Brought to safety in the Italian ports of Taranto and Pozzallo, survivors told the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) and Save the Children how their boat sank on Thursday morning after a high-seas drama which saw one woman decapitated.

“We’ll never know the exact number, we’ll never know their identity, but survivors tell that over 500 human beings died,” Carlotta Sami, UNHRC spokeswoman, said on Twitter.

With some 100 people missing after a boat sank Wednesday, and 45 bodies recovered from a wreck that happened Friday, the UNHCR said it feared up to 700 people had drowned in the Mediterranean this week.

© – AFP 2016

Read: 100 people feared dead after shipwreck off Libya >

Read: Powerful video shows child fleeing war-torn England >

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