Migrants: in the strait, the drowned dreams of the 27 castaways of Calais
Ten days after the tragedy of November 24, the deadliest since the migrants managed to cross the “Channel“For England, it remains difficult to establish the nationalities of the victims. The only certainty, according to the investigators: a large part were Iraqi Kurds.
In interviews granted to the Iraqi Kurdish channel Rudaw, the two survivors – a Kurd and a Somali – also mention Ethiopians, Iranians, Egyptians and a Vietnamese. Afghan families have also contacted the French authorities in search of relatives.
According to the investigation, they would have left “at the end of the night“from Loon-Plage, near Grande-Synthe, where many exiles are camping on the northern coast of France.
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Their means of transport: a “long boat“, mediocre grayish inflatable boat with flexible bottom, intended for a single crossing. According to the declarations of the Kurdish survivor – the maritime prefecture confirms that it is indeed a survivor – an Egyptian, older, holds the helm .
– She calls her fiancé –
At least 19 men, seven women, two teenagers and a child crowd it, most equipped with orange life jackets. The Kurdish survivor says there are 33 when the smugglers count them.
Conditions are good for the season. Due to the currents, it takes an average of ten hours to reach the English coasts.
Boarding is in the middle of the “Channel“when it begins to take in water, then to deflate, according to the Kurdish account.
Passengers try to re-inflate with a pump, others try to bail out. They call for help from the British and French authorities by telephone.
“The British police did not help us, while the French police said + You are in British waters, we cannot intervene +“, assures the survivor. The maritime prefecture ruled out that, if it was contacted, the Cross Gris-Nez, the center coordinating the rescue at sea, did not react.
Among the passengers is Maryam Nuri Hama Amin, a Kurd in her twenties. She calls her fiancé Karzan, whom she hoped to join in the UK.
The boat sinks. The migrants cling to it, then let go.
Second on the Saint-Jacques II, a trawler from the French port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, Karl Maquinghen stands on the bridge. It is around 2:00 p.m. Cloudy. Calm, gray and cold sea.
Suddenly he sees a floating mass: a man in a checkered shirt, his head in the water. “He passed 2m from the boat, not even», Testifies the fisherman.
Other bodies, about fifteen, float around, within a radius of about 100m. At the back of the boat, the fishermen see “a child smuggler“.”Horror movie“, describes Karl Maquinghen, 21 years in the business.
Impossible to raise the bodies: the trawler is too high. The crew indicated their position at the Cross Gris-Nez.
A French navy patroller, the Flamant, located 4km away, was sent in urgently. An 8m semi-rigid is launched with four men on board, including a diver, followed by a second.
– Cardiac massages –
Priority is given to people with their heads above water. It is in these precious minutes that the two survivors are saved: the Kurd is “very chilled, but conscious“and the Somali has”very weak constants», According to the maritime prefecture.
Two French and British helicopters locate the victims with smoke bombs. The english device bring back two.
The bodies boarded the mother ship, where a medical team was hoisted. Cardiac massages are carried out on the castaways who still react, by reflex, to the stimulations. Without success.
In addition to the two survivors, 19 people went back up, including a girl. The bodies are lined up on the rear deck, in body bags or under a sheet. The intervention lasted less than two hours.
The National Society for Rescues at Sea also dispatched its Calais star, Notre-Dame du Risban, which passed next to the deflated boat. “The little air that was left helps it to float», Testifies the captain, Charles Devos.
They recover six victims: four men, a young man and a pregnant woman.
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