Several others are needs to be injured after their boat capsized off the coast of Calais this day.
Twenty-nine migrants have drowned trying to cross the Channel in an inflatable dinghy, the MP for Calais has told Sky News.
Pierre Henri Dumont said the figure was the most uptodate he had – earlier the town’s mayor had put it at 27.
Several others are thought to be injured after their boat capsized near Calais this afternoon.
One UK patrol boat, one French lifeboat, and three helicopters are involved in search and rescue efforts as five people remain missing, said French maritime minister Annick Girardin.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is holding a meeting of the UK’s emergency COBRA committee in response.
How many migrants cross the canal?
The numbers vary from month to month – but in November 2021, over 1,000 people arrived in a single day, for the first time.
More than 25,000 people have crossed the canal so far this year – but it is important to consider that figure as part of a bigger picture.
In 2019, about 45,000 people sought asylum in the UK. The dinghies are thus only a part of the sum.
Can migrants in the channel be pushed back?
Interior Minister Priti Patel has given permission to Border Patrol officials to return boats transporting migrants to Britain under limited circumstances.
Push back at sea is a tactic that Australia, for example, has already used.
However, it requires the other side to cooperate – something France has so far refused to do.
As soon as the boats leave French waters – which the British authorities cannot enter without France’s consent – and enter Britain’s, they are subject to the protection of British law, says Prof Andrew Serdy, a maritime law expert.
“If France does not want to take them back once they have left, you can not be forced to do so and a position arises.”
In addition, a boat can only be pushed back if it is obvious that it does not endanger life. Such a tactic can be difficult to justify if it is a matter of eavesdropping on a small dinghy.