The French news channel BFM TV first reported the news, citing French police sources. A coastguard official said a rescue operation was still underway.
Three rescue vessels and one helicopter appeared to be attending the scene, according to information available on the MarineTraffic app.
“A search and rescue operation is under way off the coast of Calais…We think several people have died as their vessel sank,” a police source told Reuters on Wednesday afternoon.
The source did not give the exact number of people who had died, adding that doctors would have to confirm the death toll first.
Gerald Darmanin, the French interior minister, also confirmed there had been fatalities in the Channel after a boat capsized on Wednesday. In the same tweet, he added that “we can never say enough about the criminal nature of the (people) smugglers”.
The latest fatalities follow a string of other migrant deaths in the Channel in recent weeks.
One man died making the dangerous crossing on 3 November, while another was found dead the following day on a beach near Calais, after French officials found a boat filled with water.
Late last month, another man lost his life after falling off a dinghy as he attempted the journey to England. Home secretary Priti Patel confirmed the news to a House of Lords committee on 27 October.
“We want to stop people from drowning at sea, only yesterday there was a loss of life,” she told the group of peers.
However, despite these words, experts believe that Ms Patel’s plan to “push-back” migrant boats in the Channel will breach international law and also put migrants’ lives at risk.
More to follow
Source: The Independent