40 Migrants Head to UK on Christmas Day Dash Across English Channel

(Photo:Premar Instagram)

Forty migrants were picked up in the English Channel in five separate incidents on Christmas day, believed to be the highest number of illegals and boats intercepted in one day.

The first vessel was spotted at 2:40am local time after a boat containing eight migrants alighted in Folkestone, reports the BBC.

The second incident occurred at 4:30 am when 13 migrants were spotted in a boat by the British lifeboat service and a coastguard helicopter off the coast of Deal.

At 5:50 am, eight migrants in a dinghy were intercepted by UK Border Force cutter in British waters in the English Channel. French maritime authorities released images of the rescue operation captured from helicopter observation cameras.

By 9:20 am, two more in a rowing boat were picked up by a lifeboat eight nautical miles from Dover.

And for a reason not made clear, nine migrants whose engine failed in French territorial waters were brought to England and have been transferred to the British Coastguard to be assessed.

 The majority are understood to be male, with at least one woman and two children found aboard the separate craft.

British authorities believe all the migrants are from Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

On Saturday, French authorities stopped 16 migrants off the coast of Boulogne after they had stolen a fishing boat, in a move similar to that taken by 12 migrants who reachedDover harbour in a stolen fishing vessel in November.

“The evidence shows there is organised criminal gang activity behind illegal migration attempts by small boats across the Channel,” a Home Office spokesman said on Christmas day.