A boat carrying migrants sank off the French coast in the English Channel near Calais in the early hours of Saturday. The incident resulted in the confirmed deaths of six people and the rescue of around 59 survivors.

The French coast guard reported that the boat, carrying Afghan migrants, ran into trouble near Sangatte. Sangatte is a commune on the northern coast of France, in the Pas-de-Calais department, on the English Channel. It is a known spot for migrants attempting to cross into the United Kingdom. The vessel’s distress call was raised by a passing ship at approximately 04:20 local time, catching the attention of Premar, the French coastal authority.

Despite the swift response from French and British coastguards, the boat succumbed to the rough waters, leaving six Afghan men in their 30s dead.

Among the survivors, many of whom were transported from a lifeboat to the Dover shores on stretchers, were children and individuals from Afghanistan, with a few Sudanese migrants among them. The boat, described as overloaded, was in danger as it made its way through the English Channel.

Upon the arrival of the French lifeboat at the scene, a scene of chaos greeted the rescuers. People were found struggling in the water, some screaming for help while others clung desperately to debris from the damaged vessel.

Rescue teams on both the French and British sides have faced a pattern in recent days. They were called upon to save migrants from waters on multiple occasions. The current incident marks the seventh instance this week.

Concerns rise that human smugglers orchestrating these crossings may be utilising boats with structural defects or other critical issues, putting the lives of migrants at risk.

Survivor interviews suggest there may have been as many as 65 or 66 individuals on the boat.

Calais MP Pierre-Henri Dumont said that authorities are currently conducting interviews with migrants in stable health, seeking to extract crucial details about the incident and gather information about the migrants’ origins. These conversations are expected to provide insight into the circumstances that led to the catastrophic sinking.

Rescue efforts are a collaboration between the French and British authorities. UK rescue crews transported 23 survivors to Dover, while a French vessel brought 36 individuals to Calais, according to Premar. Nevertheless, the search continues as two French boats comb the waters to locate the two missing individuals.

The English Channel is a heavily traversed maritime route. It accommodates approximately 600 tankers and 200 ferries each day.