Ramsgate RNLI is among the crews tasked to a search and rescue during the early hours of this morning (December 14) after a small boat carrying almost 50 people capsized in the English Channel.
Some 43 people have been brought to shore and it is understood four people have died in their attempt to make the crossing from France.
A multi-agency operation got underway at a little after 3am involving HM Coastguard, Navy, Border Force, RNLI crews from Ramsgate, Dover, Dungeness, Hastings, Kent Police and South East Coast Ambulance Service as well as the French Navy.
A HM Coastguard spokesperson said: “HM Coastguard continues to coordinate a search and rescue response to an incident involving a small boat off Kent, working with the Navy, Border Force, Kent Police and other partners. We have sent Dover, Dungeness, Hastings and Ramsgate RNLI lifeboats and Deal, Dungeness and Folkestone coastguard rescue teams, along with the coastguard area commander.
“HM Coastguard helicopters from Humberside, Lydd and Lee on Solent and one from the French Navy are also involved. A fishing vessel in the area is also assisting in the rescue. South East Coast Ambulance and Kent Police are working with us and an air ambulance has been sent.
“The incident is ongoing and we have no further information.
“HM Coastguard will continue to safeguard life around the seas and coastal areas of the UK, working with search and rescue resources in the area. If a vessel needs search and rescue assistance, HM Coastguard will continue to respond to all those in need.”
An RNLI spokesperson added: “Volunteer crews from several RNLI stations on the south east coast are involved in an on-going search and rescue response in the Channel being co-ordinated by HM Coastguard. Due to this being an on-going incident we have no further information at present.”
East Kent Hospitals was placed on standby in the early hours of this morning following the incident and was stood down at around 9am. It is understood some of those rescued from the water have been taken to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman will give an update on the situation following Prime Minister’s Questions at about 12.30pm.
She said earlier today: “I am aware of a distressing incident in the Channel this morning and I am being kept constantly updated while agencies respond and urgently establish the full facts. My heartfelt thoughts are with all those involved.”