CALAIS: At least 27 migrants, including children and pregnant women, were killed when their small boat sank while attempting to cross the English Channel, a French government official said on Thursday.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin also announced the arrest of a fifth suspected smuggler who was thought to have been involved in the deadliest migration tragedy ever over the dangerous sea route.
In their immediate response to the sinking, French officials gave slightly different figures on the death toll, from 27 to 31. The figure Darmanin used on Thursday was 27.
Darmanin said officials were working to determine the nationalities of the victims of Wednesday’s drowning. Two survivors were treated for hypothermia. One is Iraqi, the other Somali, Darmanin said on RTL radio.
“Pregnant women, children died,” he said without giving details of their numbers.
Darmanin had on Wednesday already announced the arrest of four suspected smugglers suspected of being linked to the sinking boat. He told RTL that the fifth suspected smuggler was picked up overnight.