Channel migrant tragedy: Heartbroken husband fears his wife among 27 drowned when flimsy boat deflated on way to Britain

A HEARTBROKEN husband fears his wife was among 27 migrants who drowned when their flimsy boat deflated on the way to Britain.

Maryam Nuri’s GPS signal suddenly disappeared while her husband was tracking her across the Channel on Wednesday.


A group of more than 40 migrants leave the coast of northern France to cross the English Channel[/caption]

The tragedy, which took place at the spot shown on this map, claimed the lives of 27 migrants
The tragedy, which took place at the spot shown on this map, claimed the lives of 27 migrants

The same day, at least 27 people – including five women and a little girl – drowned after their boat sank off the coast of Calais in the deadliest incident since the migrant crisis began.

Mrs Nuri’s husband, who is a Kurdish immigrant living in the UK, said his wife was crossing the Channel to be with him and had phoned to say she was on a boat with around 30 other people before losing signal.

He told The Telegraph: “She is not in the UK, which means that she is gone. It is very sad for me, and for everyone.”

The devastated husband, who did not wish to be named, added: “I had continuous contact with my wife and I was tracking her live GPS.

“After four hours and 18 minutes from the moment she went into that boat, I think they were in the middle of the sea, then I lost her.”

At a news conference in Calais, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin described the dinghy which sank as “very frail” and said it was “like a pool you blow up in your garden”.

With 34 people believed to be on the boat, the vessel ran into trouble shortly after casting off from the French shoreline.

An emergency search was sparked when a fishing boat sounded the alarm after spotting several people unconscious in the water.

One of the French lifeboat workers, Charles Devos, described seeing “a flat, deflated inflatable boat with the little air that remained helping it float” surrounded by bodies.

The joint search and rescue operation by the French and British authorities was finally called off late on Wednesday.

But in a dramatic turn of intervention, Boris Johnson last night wrote to Emmanuel Macron to formalise talks with the French President over the crisis.

The PM offered Macron hundreds of British personnel to stop desperate migrants entering the water and urged him to allow joint patrols on French beaches from next month.

And among a number of actions listed for Macron to consider was “Joint or reciprocal maritime patrol operations in each other’s territorial waters”.

He said this could include “French gendarmes and UK Border Force working together, perhaps under one single command structure or the joint deployment of private security contractors.”

The PM added: “We are ready to begin such patrols from the start of next week and to scale up thereafter.”

The Express has reported UK troops will patrol French beaches in a united effort by both countries to tackle the “horrendous” migrant crossings costing so many lives. – but this has not yet been confirmed.


Boris Johnson, who chaired an emergency meeting of the COBRA ministerial group, said yesterday he was “shocked, appalled and deeply saddened” by the loss of life in the Channel – one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

He said the deaths “underscored how dangerous it is” to cross from France.

Speaking to reporters at Downing Street, the PM added: “What this shows is that the gangs who are sending people to sea in these dangerous crafts will literally stop at nothing.

“But what I’m afraid it also shows is that the operation that is being conducted by our friends on the beaches, supported as you know with £54 million from the UK to help patrol the beaches, the technical support we’ve been giving, they haven’t been enough.

“Our offer is to increase our support but also to work together with our partners on the beaches concerned, on the launching grounds for these boats.

“That’s something I hope will be acceptable now in view of what has happened.”

He suggested the French government had not always approached the problem in the way the British believed it should.

“We’ve had difficulties persuading some of our partners, particularly the French, to do things in a way that we think the situation deserves,” he said.

“I understand the difficulties that all countries face, but what we want now is to do more together – and that’s the offer we are making.”

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron has called for an urgent meeting of European Union ministers.

“France will not allow the English Channel to turn into a graveyard,” he said in a statement.


Boris Johnson has urged President Macron to allow joint patrols on French beaches[/caption]


Remains of an inflatable boat and personal belongings left by migrants on the beach near Wimereux, France[/caption]

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