Channel deaths: Moment French coastguard makes mayday call after boat capsizes killing 27 people

Listen to the mayday call made by the French coastguard

The French coastguard mayday call for the boat that capsized killing 27 people in the English Channel has emerged.

The radio operator alerted all ships in the area of "approximately" 15 men overboard to report information to Gris-Nez emergency officials.

The message said: "Mayday relay, mayday relay, mayday relay.

"This is Gris-Nez emergency, Gris-Nez emergency, Gris-Nez emergency.

"15 man overboard, approximately. 15 man overboard.

"All ships in this area are requested to have a (indistinct) lookout to proceed to this area to take contact and report any information to Gris-Nez emergency coordinating this operation."

Activists defending migrants' rights gather with posters reading "Human rights, outraged, smashed, martyrized" outside the port of Calais. Credit: AP

Children and a heavily pregnant woman were among 27 people who died while trying to cross the English Channel in a bid to reach the UK, French officials confirmed earlier.

Wednesday's fatal crossing saw 17 men, seven women, two teenage boys and a young girl die after the inflatable boat they were travelling on got into difficulty.

Identities of the dead have not yet been determined but French authorities told ITV News that those onboard were from Kurdistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

There were just two survivors. Two men were saved from the sea alive and treated for hypothermia - one had travelled from Somalia and the other from Iraq, ITV News understands.