Teenager charged over Channel migrant disaster that killed four

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A teenager has been charged in connection with last week’s migrant tragedy in which four people died while trying to cross the English Channel in a small boat.

Ibrahima Bah, 19, of no fixed abode, was arrested two days after the incident by Kent Police and was on Sunday charged with helping migrants enter Britain illegally.

He was remanded into custody and is due to appear before Folkestone Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Four people died and 39 had to be rescued – including a number who were pulled from the freezing water – after the dinghy in which they were attempting to cross the Channel capsized in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

A fishing vessel initially responded to cries for help and a huge search and rescue operation involving British and French authorities was launched.

Members of the Royal Navy, the French navy, the Coastguard, lifeboat crews and the police and ambulance services were all scrambled to respond to the emergency. Drones were also used to help in the search for the missing.

Despite the freezing temperatures and the pitch black conditions 43 people were located and brought to shore but four were pronounced dead.

Police are still seeking to establish and confirm the identities of those who died and contact next of kin, but it is understood at least one of those who perished was a teenager.

According to local sources 12 of the 39 people who survived the tragedy were unaccompanied children.

It is thought the majority of the migrants on board the vessel were from Afghanistan, Iran, Senegal and India, with suggestions they had paid up to £5,000 to people traffickers to smuggle them into the UK.

This year more than 45,000 migrants have crossed the Channel in small boats in order to get to Britain.

The tragedy unfolded just a day after Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister unveiled new plans to tackle the migrant crisis.

Following news of the deaths, Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary said it was a “sobering reminder” why the Government has to end the crossings. 

Detectives from Kent Police, supported by the National Crime Agency (NCA) launched an urgent criminal investigation into the tragedy and arrested a man on Friday.

A Kent Police spokesman said: “The Crown Prosecution Service has authorised a charge against Ibrahima Bah of knowingly facilitating the attempted arrival in the United Kingdom of people he knew or had reasonable cause to believe were asylum seekers.

“The 19-year-old, of no fixed address, was remanded in custody and will appear before Folkestone Magistrates’ Court on Monday 19 December.

“Officers are continuing to work to establish the identity of the deceased and locate the next of kin.”

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