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18 migrants are rescued as boat sinks off coast of Kent

By Ben Mitchell

Two children were among a group of 18 Albanians and two British people rescued from the English Channel after their inflatable boat began to sink.

The UK Coastguard received a call for assistance just off the coast of Dymchurch in Kent at 11.40pm on Saturday. A search-and-rescue helicopter was deployed as well as lifeboats and coastguard rescue teams.

The rhib (rigid-hulled inflatable boat), with 20 people on board, was found at 2am and the matter was handed over to Border Force. It has been reported the people on board had alerted their families in Calais, who raised the alarm with the French authorities.

A Home Office spokesman confirmed that there was one woman and two children aboard the boat. He added that a second vessel was discovered on the beach at Dymchurch which was believed could be linked to the boat that got into trouble.

The spokesman said: "A total of 20 people were picked up in a search and rescue operation. 18 were Albanian, and two were British. There was one woman, and two minors.

"They were taken to Dover and are currently being interviewed by Border Force officers."

Councillor Mary Lawes, Ukip group leader on Shepway District Council, said she was concerned for security as well as the safety of migrants in unsafe boats.

She said: "We are not doing enough to control our coastline, the Government has to address border controls, something has to be done to protect these people from harm and our borders."

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