Eighteen Albanians rescued from inflatable boat in English Channel
Eighteen Albanians and two British people have been rescued from the English Channel after their inflatable boat began to sink.
The UK Coastguard received a call for assistance just off the coast of Dymchurch in Kent at 11.40pm on Saturday.
A search-and-rescue helicopter was deployed as well as lifeboats and coastguard rescue teams.
The rhib (rigid-hulled inflatable boat), with 20 people on board, was found at 2am and the matter was handed over to Border Force.
It has been reported the people on board had alerted their families in Calais, who raised the alarm with the French authorities.
A Coastguard statement said: "The UK Coastguard has co-ordinated an incident off Dymchurch to rescue the occupants of a rhib overnight. A call was received at 11.40pm (on Saturday) requesting assistance to the rhib, which was taking on water.
"The HM Coastguard search-and-rescue helicopter from Lydd, RNLI lifeboats from Dungeness and Littlestone, and coastguard rescue teams from Dungeness and Folkestone were sent. The rhib was located at 2am and the incident handed over to UK Border Force."
A Home Office spokesman said: "A total of 20 people were picked up in a search-and-rescue operation. 18 were Albanian, and two were British. They were taken to Dover and are currently being interviewed by Border Force officers."
Councillor Mary Lawes, Ukip group leader on Shepway District Council, said she was concerned for the security of the region as well as the safety of migrants.
She said: "We are not doing enough to control our coastline, the Government has to address border controls, something has to be done to protect these people from harm and our borders."