Kent

Seven suspected migrants found in boat off Kent

Inflatable boat
Image caption The boat was spotted off Dover before it was found at Folkestone harbour

Seven suspected migrants have been discovered in an inflatable boat off the Kent coast.

Coastguard and lifeboat teams were sent to find the boat, which was spotted off Dover.

The vessel was found at Folkestone harbour with seven people in it.

Kent Police and ambulance paramedics were also sent to the scene at about 05:30 GMT, but police said the matter had been passed to Home Office immigration enforcement.

Coastguards said three of the people on the boat were suffering from suspected hypothermia and South East Coast Ambulance service was called to assist.

It is thought the boat reached the shore without help.

'Risking their lives'

Ian Guy, UK coastguard duty controller, said rescuers searched the area because a separate emergency call was made at 06:00 GMT but they were confident only one boat was involved.

He said: "A thorough search of the area was made to establish that there was no other boat still out at sea. We are satisfied that is the case."

Image caption Seven people were found in the vessel

Charlie Elphicke, the Conservative MP for Dover and Deal, said the incident showed the need "to be more vigilant than ever" after the Jungle camp in Calais was closed.

He said: "This is yet another sign of the extreme lengths people will go to, risking their lives trying to break into Britain.

"Crossing the English Channel in a small boat as winter sets in is about as dangerous as it gets.

"This incident underlines the need to ensure we scan our seas for people smugglers, protect our borders and to strengthen our intelligence effort with France."

Image caption Police and ambulance paramedics were sent to the scene

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