A family of seven migrants have been detained after an inflatable boat was found a mile out to sea.
The group, including a mother, father and five children, were discovered after an inflatable boat was found abandoned with lifejackets that has washed up on a Kent beach.
Around 4.20am yesterday morning, Border Force was alerted to a rigid hulled inflatable boat spotted off the coast at Kingsdown, near Deal, Kent.
The vessel was recovered around a mile off shore after four RNLI lifeboats and a Coastguard helicopter were scrambled to find the occupants of the boat.
At first there were fears people had drowned after life jackets were found on the shore around eight miles away near Shakespeare Beach in Dover.
The small rigid inflatable boat was seen bobbing in the water just after 7am on Sunday at St Margaret’s Bay, around 2.5 miles from the Port of Dover in east Kent
The family group were found by police on the shore and have been transferred to immigration officials for interview.
A Border Force vessel has been launched earlier today after an empty boat was spotted floating three hours later, just after 7am at St Margaret’s Bay, around 2.5 miles from the Port of Dover in east Kent.
A number of lifejackets were also found near the Shakespeare Beach, just over five miles from St Margaret’s Bay.
It ha snot been officially confirmed at this stage if they are linked.
A Home Office spokesman said today Border Force are confident the vessel was used for a migrant crossing.
He added: ‘Border Force responded to an incident in Kingsdown, Kent, following reports of a boat in the channel. Border Force are confident the vessel was used for a migrant crossing.
A Border Force vessel has been launched after an empty boat was spotted floating off the Dover coast
A Border Force vessel and RNLI lifeboats (pictured) have been launched after an empty boat was spotted floating off the Dover coast
‘Since the Home Secretary declared a major incident in December we have tripled the number of cutters operating in the Channel, agreed a joint action plan with France and increased activity out of the Joint Coordination and Information Centre in Calais.
‘The number of individuals attempting to cross the Channel decreased from around 250 in December to around 90 in January, with roughly half of the January attempts being intercepted by partners in France before they could make it to British waters.’
The detention of the latest migrants comes after 34 migrants were picked up off the Kent coast on Monday after being found on one boat.
One witness said he saw at least one child, a boy who looked about six years old and was accompanied by a woman.
Hundreds of migrants, mostly Iranian, have made perilous trips across the Channel in recent months.
On December 30 last year six migrants were seen on the same stretch of beach at Kingsdown.
They were given blankets before they were taken for a medical assessment and transferred to immigration officials.
More than 300 migrants have now crossed the Channel to arrive in Britain since the beginning of November.
An image from the Societe Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer (SNSM) shows British rescuers helping some 30 migrants make their way from France across the English Channel on Monday
A women and a child are wrapped in orange blankets and helped by Border Force officials last week
In December, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the dramatic spike in migrants arriving on beaches in Kent was a ‘major incident’.
On Christmas Day alone, 40 people in five boats arrived at beaches near Dover, and a further 39 arrived over one weekend in January.
A Home Office spokesman told Sky News today: ‘Border Force is currently dealing with an ongoing small boat incident off the Kent coast.
‘Further details will be provided once the situation has been resolved.’
At least 91 people have made the 21-mile journey between France and England in small boats this year.