İrem UZUN -TDO- Two children - aged five and eight - and a man and a woman died when their vessel capsized near Dunkirk. Fifteen others were taken to hospital, French officials said on Tuesday. Another person, possibly a child, is still missing.  They and other migrants were trying to cross the English Channel to Britain, French authorities said.

Some of those rescued had gone into cardiac arrest, and others suffered hypothermia.  The group’s small fishing boat capsized in the Channel at about 9.30am near Dunkirk, an official told journalists.  “It seems that one person, who might be an infant, is still missing,” he said, noting that stormy conditions had made the attempted crossing especially perilous.  Military resources as well as civilian boats were involved in the rescue operation after the vessel was seen to be in difficulty near Dunkirk.

Illegal crossings across the Channel, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, have become increasingly common in recent years.  Britain's Press Association agency calculated that more than 7,400 migrants had crossed by boat so far in 2020, up from 1,800 in all of 2019. Many more have been stopped by French authorities before reaching British waters. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his thoughts were with the victims' loved ones. He said "We have offered the French authorities every support as they investigate this terrible incident, and will do all we can to crack down on the ruthless criminal gangs who prey on vulnerable people by facilitating these dangerous journeys."

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