Margate and Ramsgate RNLI crews and the Coastguard helicopter are currently involved in an operation following a report of a person in the water from a vessel with migrants aboard drifting in the shipping lane.
The search, which also involves Lee on Solent and Lydd, has been deployed some 20 miles off Broadstairs.
Ramsgate RNLI received the call to launch at 1.15pm. It is understood that around 19 migrants have been picked up by Ramsgate lifeboat crew.
Ambulance, police and Border Force are currently stationed at Ramsgate harbour.
Search for person in the water continues
A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesperson said the call came in after reports of a person -thought to be a woman- in the water. The search for that individual continues.
They added: “HM Coastguard is currently coordinating a search and rescue response after reports of a person in the water, approximately 24nm off North Foreland.
“Ramsgate, Dover and Margate RNLI lifeboats and HM Coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Lydd have been sent and vessels in the vicinity are being asked to keep a sharp look out.
“The report came from a vessel, which had a number of people on board. The remaining people have been recovered by Ramsgate lifeboat which is now making its way to shore and will be met by Border Force and the police.
“Committed to safeguarding life’
“We are committed to safeguarding life around the seas and coastal areas of this country. HM Coastguard is only concerned with preservation of life, rescuing those in trouble and bringing them safely back to shore, where they will be handed over to the relevant partner emergency services or authorities.
“The search for the missing person is ongoing.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “We are aware of an ongoing incident in the Channel. More details will be provided in due course.”
Earlier today 30 migrants were intercepted crossing the Channel in four small boats. Border Force officials were alerted at 4am.
The vessels were picked up by a Border Force cutter and coastal patrol boat. Those on board were Iranian and Afghan nationals.
- The term migrant refers to people who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum.