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Three arrested after canal migrant deaths

Three men were arrested on Tuesday after the deaths of five migrants, including a seven-year-old child, in the canal.

The men, two Sudanese nationals aged 22 and 19, and a South Sudanese national aged 22, were arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration and illegally entering Britain.

They were detained by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and partners in Immigration Enforcement on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning and will now be questioned by NCA investigators at a police station in Kent.

The crossings involved 58 migrants who refused to leave the boat in which the five were trampled or crushed on Tuesday.

The arrivals came just hours after parliament passed legislation aimed at kicking off the government’s plan to give asylum seekers a one-way ticket to Rwanda.

The dinghy carrying 112 people left Wimereux around 6 a.m. on Tuesday, but ran into difficulties. A seven-year-old girl, a woman and three men died in love on the ‘heavily loaded’ boat after panic broke out hundreds of meters from shore when the engine failed, police said.

About 49 people were rescued, but 58 others refused to leave the boat and continued their journey to Britain, while several other boats later began the crossing.

Home Office figures show that 402 people made the journey in seven boats that same day after an eight-day break in activity in the Channel, suggesting there was an average of around 57 people per boat.

Young children and babies were among those taken ashore in Dover, Kent, as witnesses described crew members carrying someone on a stretcher from a lifeboat to an ambulance.

The latest crossings bring the provisional total for the year to date to 6,667 – 20 percent higher than this time last year (5,546), but slightly lower (down 0.4 percent) than the figure at this stage in 2022 was registered (6,691).

Rishi Sunak said criminal gangs were exploiting the vulnerable and “packing more and more people into these unseaworthy dinghies”. Speaking on a flight to Poland, he said the tragedy “underlines why you need a deterrent.”

“This is what tragically happens when they push people out to sea and that is why, more than anything, we need to actually break this business model and put an end to the dishonesty of people coming to our country illegally,” he said .

The NCA said it would support the French investigation into the deaths along with British police and border police. About 29,437 people made the journey in 2023, a 36 percent drop from the record 45,774 arrivals in 2022.