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Channel migrants: Two boats found after 86 attempted crossing

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Media captionCalais migrants caught on camera trying to reach the UK – This video has no sound

Two boats thought to be carrying nearly 20 migrants have been intercepted off the Kent coast after a record 86 attempted the crossing in one day.

Coastguard crews have been dealing with two vessels off the coast of Kent.

The BBC understands there were six people on the first boat, and up to 13 on the second, with one migrant airlifted to hospital.

Eighty-six people attempted the crossing on Tuesday with Border Force officials intercepting six small boats.

It was thought to be the highest number of people found in the Channel in a single day.

The Home Office has not commented on the latest crossing attempts.

Why are Iranians crossing the Channel in dinghies?

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Media captionCalais channel crossing journey

At the scene

Colin Campbell, BBC News, on the French coast

Inflatable dinghies depart from beaches that stretch from Dunkirk in the east to Boulogne in the west, with some going further afield to avoid detection.

A stretch of coast spanning 60km, its wide, lengthy sandy beaches conceal small coves and bays. Most have discreet, access from quite roads, providing the perfect launching sites for small boats.

Vessels are launched late at night and in the early hours, with migrants saying the people-smugglers charge £3,000 to £5,000 per person.

Sometimes migrants walk to Calais beaches from migrant camps where they sleep in tents. On occasion smugglers take them in cars to departure points.

One Iranian man said he’d been in a small boat on six occasions but failed to get to the UK, thwarted by the likes of engine failure, rough seas and police interventions. He said you pay once until you succeed.

Police patrol the beaches and the French insist they are doing all they can, but there are limited resources.

The key for the smugglers is favourable weather conditions – calm seas and a wind that blows towards the UK.

More than 1,100 people have crossed the Channel in small boats this year, with 336 in August.

As numbers peaked on Tuesday, Kent Police confirmed a body found in Dutch waters was that of a female migrant who fell from a boat off the coast of Ramsgate, on 9 August.

Meanwhile, thermal-imaging cameras show attempts by migrants to break into UK-bound lorries in Calais continue in earnest after nightfall.

A boat used by migrants on the shore at Kingsdown Beach August 31, 2019 in Dover, England

Getty Images

Migrant crossings

Attempts to cross the English Channel

Source: Home Office

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing countries affected by war, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

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