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Migrant boat sinks trying to reach UK from Belgium

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Belgian emergency services are searching for eight missing migrants
Migrants trying to reach the UK in boats have set off from Belgium for the first time, a local mayor believes.A group of 14 swam back to shore when their small vessel sank off the coast of the town of De Panne. Mayor Bram Degrieck said eight of the group - which may include two children - are unaccounted for, but are believed to have made it back to land. "It's the first time to my knowledge this happens on a beach in Belgium," he said. Meanwhile, 11 migrants were detained by Border Force at the Port of Dover, with 10 others intercepted in a dinghy in the Channel.
Last year nearly 1,900 people reached the UK after setting off from the French coast in small boats.
Border Force are believed to have intercepted a dinghy in the Channel
Patrols of French beaches have doubled in an attempt to curtail crossings, the Home Office has said. "The stress is getting higher. Perhaps smugglers are trying to find different routes, other ways of getting into the UK," Mr Degrieck said. "It is obviously not the appropriate route to take. It is about 70km (43 miles) to the UK. "It is obviously very distressing that smugglers are trying to use Belgian beaches," he said.
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In an interview last month, Steve Reynolds, of the National Crime Agency, warned that smugglers "might try and vary the routes and have a slightly longer route in"."If migrants start to go further afield using longer routes the risk of fatalities obviously rises," he said.
Police in De Panne are using drones to search for the missing migrants
Mr Degrieck said Belgian police were alerted at about 04:00 GMT when one of the migrants, suffering from hypothermia, raised the alarm. "He said he was in a group of 14 attempting to leave the coast in the direction of the UK with a small boat. That boat sank, leaving 14 people in the water. "Six of them we found. They looked healthy. Of that party of 14, eight of them are still missing. Among those eight there is the possibility there are two children.""According to the people we have in custody they say that everybody was able to reach land. Of course this information is not 100% reliable, that's why we start a search this morning," he said.Of the six migrants who have been found, there are five Iranians and one Afghan, according to Belgian police.
Dover
UK immigration
English Channel
Belgium
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