A migrant boat has capsized in the English Channel, throwing dozens into the water. GB News understands there have been at least four fatalities and four still missing, with 43 others rescued.
Border Force, lifeboats, and a Royal Navy patrol vessel, have been joined by French fishing boats and two coastguard helicopters in the operation off the Kent coast near Dungeness.
Emergency calls reporting a migrant boat in distress were received by the UK coastguard shortly before 3am.
Our producer in Kent has seen the air ambulance arrive at Dover harbour, along with two land ambulances.
Bodies of the dead are hauled ashore after the tragedy in the English Channel GB News Exclusive
The rescue comes less than a day after the Prime Minister announced a raft of new plans to try to stop the illegal flow of migrant boats and reduce the asylum backlog of around 150,000 cases.
The plans include the creation of a Small Boats Opertional Command, involving Border Force, the Military and the National Crime Agency.
It is hoped the new Command structure will help provide a more joined up approach to tackling the crisis which has seen around 45,000 people arrive by small boat so far this year.
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dungeness, Kent, in early December Gareth Fuller
UK and French authorities have long warned of the dangers of trying to cross the Channel in flimsy inflatables, especially in winter, when conditions are far more unpredictable.
In November last year, 27 people drowned when their small boat sank in the middle of the Channel.
In the Commons, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I’m sure the whole House will share my sorrow at the capsizing of a small boat in the Channel in the early hours of this morning, and the tragic loss of human life.
“Our hearts go out to all those affected and our tributes to those involved in the extensive rescue operation.”
A record number of migrants have arrived in the UK in dangerous small boats this year Gareth Fuller
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Our prayers go out to those who capsized in the freezing waters of the Channel last night.
"It’s a reminder that the criminal gangs running those routes put the lives of the desperate at risk and profit from their misery. They must be broken up and brought to justice.”
Dover and Deal MP Natalie Elphicke urged Mr Sunak to “meet urgently” with French President Emmanuel Macron to set up joint patrols in the Channel and on the beaches to prevent boats entering the water and to save lives.
“Urgent action is needed now,” the Tory said.
In Dover, a black body bag was brought ashore on a stretcher from the Dover RNLI lifeboat at around 11.15am and taken to forensics tents outside the RNLI headquarters.
There are likely to have been freezing temperatures in the Channel overnight amid a cold snap sweeping across the UK.
The temperature recorded at Dungeness overnight was between 0C and 1C, according to the Met Office.