No people smugglers believed to be among rescued migrants

The West Flemish Judicial Authorities report that according to the initial findings of their investigation into 15 migrants that were rescued from the sea of De Panne (West Flanders) early on Saturday morning none of those rescued were people smugglers.   

The inflatable rubber dinghy they had tried to cross sea to the UK was only capable of carrying 7 people at the most. The migrants set sail aboard the dinghy from the northern French coastal town of Dunkirk late on Friday night. A couple of hours into their failed attempt to reach the UK the boat started to take in water. They contacted the emergency services and they were rescued 6.2 nautical miles of the West Flemish coastal resort of De Panne.     

They were taken to Ostend. Despite their experience the migrants were all found to be in good health. The Maritime police checked any mobile phones belonging to members of the group that were still working in an effort to try and find out if people smugglers had arranged for the migrants to embark on their highly dangerous attempt to cross the sea to the UK.

The migrants said that they were from Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Egypt. During questioning it emerged that a number of the group had made previous attempts to reach the UK by sea.

The investigation into whether a people smuggling gang arrange the ill-fated sea cross and if this was the case who exactly was involved is still ongoing.

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