Chelmsford & Mid Essex Times
Wednesday October 27, 2021
By James Dwan
‘Extensive’ operation involved Border Force, RNLI and Maritime and Coastguard Agency
A group of asylum seekers arrive at Dungeness beach, Kent. Getty
A major search and rescue mission was launched off the Harwich coast after it is believed a migrant was swept overboard from a dinghy.
The Home Office said Border Force and HM Coastguard assisted in the rescue of two men.
The Gazette understands a “very small” dinghy carrying Somali migrants trying to cross the Channel from Calais, France, was first spotted 40 miles off the Essex coast.
An extensive joint search and rescue operation for an additional man reported to have entered the sea in international waters was carried out, led by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and supported by the RNLI.
Harwich RNLI launched at 4.05pm on Monday, returned and then launched again at 11.35pm, before going back to shore at 8am.
A coastguard helicopter and a coastguard fixed wing aircraft were also involved in the rescue bid.
But no one was found and the search was concluded at around 2pm on Tuesday.
The Home Office said the two rescued men, both Somali nationals, are being processed within the immigration rules.
A spokesman said: “An extensive search and rescue operation for a man reported to have entered the water off the Essex coast concluded.
“We want to thank those who responded to this incident and who continue to work tirelessly to protect lives at sea whilst securing our border.
“While the investigation into this incident continues, it is a reminder of the extreme dangers of crossing the Channel in small boats and the callous disregard for life shown by the criminal gangs.
“We are determined to do everything we can to prevent people dying in the Channel.
"The Government’s New Plan for Immigration, and ongoing work with the French Government, will help us crack down on organised criminals and reform the asylum system to deter people from attempting these deadly crossings.”
Harwich and North Essex MP Sir Bernard Jenkin said: “Obviously the potential loss of life is extremely distressing. We should be extremely grateful to the rescue teams for all their efforts.
Fears for migrants after massive search operation off Harwich