FOUR migrants died in the freezing Channel yesterday after being charged £5,000 each by evil trafficking gangs.
Dozens more narrowly cheated death when their flimsy, crowded dinghy capsized. A British fishing boat helped to pull survivors from the icy waters.
4Dinghy survivors seen in the freezing Channel as four migrants diedCredit: Ruckas4Relived migrants, including youths, which have been rescued from the icy waters arrive in DoverCredit: Paul Edwards4They were led to safety after being charged £5,000 each by evil trafficking gangs for the terror journeyCredit: Paul EdwardsThe tragedy led to demands for ministers to pass laws deterring the crossings.
A hero trawler skipper and his crew pulled 31 people to safety as four migrants died.
Raymond Strachen drew his vessel alongside the flimsy capsized dinghy at 3am.
Footage from the scallop trawler showed many of the 50 illegals, including children as young as three, being taken out of the water with ropes.
Brave Ray said: “It was like something out of a Second World War movie. There were people in the water everywhere, screaming.”
Those they saved in the two-hour rescue told crew they had paid smuggling gangs £5,000 each for a crossing.
The Home Office said 39 migrants were rescued in total, with the grim search for bodies continuing last night.
The Home Office said 39 migrants were rescued in total, with the grim search for bodies continuing4Dozens more narrowly cheated death when their flimsy, crowded dinghy capsizedFrench cops were blasted for failing to stop the crossings — despite the UK agreeing a £63million deal to bolster coastal patrols last month.
Total spending is now £175million since the crisis erupted in 2018.
Ex-Tory MP Ann Widdecombe fumed: “The French are not doing anything. We should have stopped sending them money long ago.”
The crowded dinghy was little bigger than a paddling pool. A source said: “There was a family onboard. We don’t know if they are safe but if they have not been found it’s likely they have died.”
A 22-second WhatsApp voice note from the boat was sent to French charity Utopia 56 at 1.53am.
Spokesman Nikolai Posner said: “In the background of the message we can hear babies screaming.
“The man said the water was inside the boat and so they were in the water inside the boat, that families and kids were on board and that they needed emergency help. It was like ‘Help us, help us, help us, we need help’. He sounded young, probably from the Middle East.”
The six crew on the Plymouth-based Arcturus trawler came across migrants dressed in T-shirts and thin lifejackets off Dungeness, 30 miles from Dover.
Some were diving into the freezing water as the boat started to fill. Skipper Ray was woken by a colleague who said dozens of migrants were trying to cling on to the side of the vessel.
Ray said: “The dinghy started to drift away, so I steamed towards it and we secured it with a rope. Adrenaline kicked in.”
Ben Squire, owner of the Arcturus, called it “carnage” and said: “Our guys were amazing.” After hauling migrants to safety, the crew gave them hot showers, their own clothes and fed them to help warm them up.
‘Callous disregard for human life’
NHS worker Karen Thompson, 52, said she had seen a bodybag being brought ashore on a stretcher in Dover. A lifeboat had taken the body to a forensics tent at 11.15am.
Karen said: “It was horrific. What a tragedy.”
Sir Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet, said some of those saved were still fighting for their lives in hospital, including women and children. He feared others flown to hospitals may yet die.
Albanian translator Fatbardha Celaj who was helping treat the survivors said there had been 34 people admitted.
He said: “One is a boy named Denis from northern Albania. He is well but traumatised.”
Others had come from Afghanistan, Iraq, Senegal and India, and had left Ambleteuse beach, south of Calais, at 10pm.
Temperatures dropped to 0C overnight, and it was likely -4C at sea. A source told The Sun callous smugglers had whipped up trade by warning of colder weather on the way — playing on the fact the window for crossing was set to close for Christmas.
Last November at least 27 migrants drowned after their dinghy overturned.
More than 44,711 people have made the dangerous crossing on board small boats so far this year.
On Tuesday PM Rishi Sunak announced new measures to stop the boats. Yesterday he expressed his sorrow at the “tragic loss of human life”.
Fishing skipper Matt Coker, 42, told The Sun: “They don’t realise what they are getting into. They just wait for the people smuggler to turn up and they go. The boat was one of the same cheap ones they have used before. It just falls apart.”
Dover MP Natalie Elphicke called on Mr Sunak to meet France’s President Emmanuel Macron, saying: “The criminal gangs behind these dangerous journeys have a callous disregard for human life.
“They won’t stop unless they are made to by Britain and France.”
BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS
PEOPLE smugglers were branded murderers with “blood on their hands” yesterday — as Tory MPs demanded tough migration laws be sped up after the Channel deaths.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman insisted her plan to ban illegal migrants from being able to stay in the UK will save lives and deter others from making the journey.
She vowed ministers will do “whatever it takes” to stop people risking their lives to get into Britain.
Furious Tory MPs said yesterday’s incident only strengthened the need to clamp down on the trade and end the small boats crisis.
Tory Dean Russell MP said: “Isn’t it the most compassionate thing to make sure we smash these awful organised crime gangs, who are not just traffickers, but today . . . murderers?”
Former minister Tim Loughton said; “Be in no doubt the blood is on the hands of the criminal gangs responsible for this tragedy.”
Ms Braverman told MPs that “these are the days we dread”, and that the disaster was “the most sobering reminder possible of why we have to end these crossings”.
By Natasha Clark
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk