England

Channel migrant boat rescue: Man charged

Lifeboat Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption Three lifeboat crews were sent to the scene

A man has been charged with people smuggling offences after nine people were rescued from an inflatable boat in the English Channel.

The RIB - or rigid inflatable boat - ran into trouble on Wednesday, about 20 miles south of Dungeness in Kent.

Coastguards and the RNLI transferred those on board to a lifeboat and brought them ashore at Eastbourne.

Afrim Xhekaliu, 40, of Leicester Road, Barnet, will appear before Brighton Magistrates' Court on Friday.

He has been charged with assisting illegal entry, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

Two other men were also arrested on suspicion of people smuggling offences.

The agency said one had been released under investigation, while the other would face no further action.

He is now being dealt with by immigration enforcement, it added.

The Home Office said the eight men and a woman on board the boat told rescuers they were from Albania.

A spokeswoman said the Border Force received an alert from coastguards at about 05:30 GMT after concerns were raised about a small boat.

Coastguards and lifeboat crews launched a search and rescue operation to locate the vessel.

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