Channel crossing: Seven-year-old girl drowns in northern France after boat capsizes

Officials say a boat carrying 16 people sunk in a canal in northern France, ITV News Reporter Sam Holder has the latest

A seven-year-old girl has died after a migrant boat capsized in northern France.

Officials say the boat was carrying 16 people when it sank in the Canal de L'Aa in Watten, around 20 miles from Calais.

She had been travelling with her pregnant mother, three siblings and father, according to local officials - who confirmed surviving family members were all taken to hospital in Dunkirk.

Police and firefighters were alerted to the sinking boat by a walker.

Bertrand Gaume, prefect of the Hauts-de-France region, stated that the boat was "probably stolen" and not large enough to carry the amount of people onboard.

Local authorities confirmed the vessel was also carrying a couple, two men, and six young children.

This week’s Home Office figures showed more than 2,000 migrants have arrived in the UK so far this year after crossing the strait between England and France.

The number of Channel arrivals is 32% lower than the total recorded this time last year (2,953) but 49% higher than the total at this stage in 2022 (1,482).

Some 29,437 migrants arrived in the UK after making the crossing in 2023, down 36% on a record 45,774 arrivals in 2022.

The Home Office said there were no new arrivals on Tuesday or Monday this week, but 290 asylum seekers arrived across five boats last Sunday.

Home Secretary James Cleverly was in the US this week where he made a speech focused on tackling unauthorised migration.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made stopping the boats one of his top five pledges to the electorate in January last year.

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