Investigation underway following dramatic Eastbourne sea rescue

Dungeness lifeboat arriving at Sovereign Harbour with the nine suspected migrants on board
Dungeness lifeboat arriving at Sovereign Harbour with the nine suspected migrants on board

Further details have been released after yesterday’s dramatic mid-Channel rescue of a group of suspected migrants.

After a major search operation, a rigid hull inflatable boat, carrying eight men and one woman, was eventually located and those on board taken by lifeboat to Eastbourne’s Sovereign Harbour.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said, “At 5.30am on Wednesday (January 31), Border Force received a call from The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) after concerns were raised about a small boat off the coast of East Sussex.

“The MCA launched a search and rescue operation with the RNLI to locate the boat. It was found and is now in Eastbourne Harbour where the nine people on board, who presented themselves as being from Albania, are being dealt with by Border Force.

“The group consisted of eight men and one woman and they will be processed in line with immigration rules. An investigation led by the National Crime Agency is now underway.”

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said, “HM Coastguard was involved in coordinating a search and rescue operation.

“The call came in just before 5am to which the Coastguard’s search and rescue helicopter from Lydd, along with the Dungeness lifeboat were involved in the search off the Dover Straits. A vessel has been found and nine people rescued.”

A statement from the RNLI said, “Lifeboats from the RNLI were involved in a search and rescue operation which was coordinated by the Dover Coastguard. Following a call just before 5am, HM Coastguard’s search and rescue helicopter from Lydd, along with the Dover and Dungeness lifeboats, were involved in a search of the Dover Straits.

“A vessel was found and nine people rescued and taken on board the Dungeness all-weather lifeboat where they are currently being looked after by the crew. The vessel has been taken into tow.”

And the National Crime Agency said, “We are aware of an incident that led to a number of persons being rescued from a vessel off the coast of Sussex. They are now receiving the appropriate medical attention.

“This incident demonstrates the dangers associated with such attempts to cross the Channel illegally. We are now working with Border Force and Immigration Enforcement and an investigation is underway.”