Nine migrants, including three children, found on UK beach after crossing Channel in 13ft inflatable

Nine migrants, including three children, found on UK beach after crossing Channel in 13ft inflatable
File photo of the beach at Sandgate.

Nine migrants, including three children, have been intercepted on a beach in England after crossing the English Channel in a small 13ft (4m) inflatable boat.

A further rescue operation was also underway at around 8am today after up to eight people were believed to have been spotted on an inflatable vessel near Dover in Kent.

It comes after more than 40 migrants, presenting themselves as Iraqi, Iranian and Afghan, tried to crossed the Channel towards England on Christmas Day.

Littlestone lifeboat station manager Matt Crittenden said they were called at around 12.40am on December 27 to reports of people in a small inflatable boat, three miles (4.8km) off the coast at Sandgate.

"There were very scant details. We launched at around 1am and headed down and Rescue 163, the rescue Coastguard helicopter from Lydd, joined us," he told the Press Association.

"They managed to locate the boat, which was empty at that stage, and very, very near the shore."

He said the Littlestone lifeboat crew did a shoreline search before the migrants were discovered on the beach at Sandgate by the rescue helicopter.

It is understood UK Border Force officials were deployed, and that all nine migrants - five adult males, a woman, two boys and a girl - were detained.

Mr Crittenden described the boat the migrants used to cross the Channel in as 13ft (4m) long with a very small 10-horsepower engine on the back.

"I am sure it won't be the last that we go to ... they are very desperate people," he added.

A crew from Dover lifeboat station was also despatched after up to eight migrants were spotted on a craft by the Spirit of Britain ferry. It is understood Border Force officials are also assisting with that operation.

The UK's Home Office said earlier this week that "organised criminal gang activity is behind illegal migration attempts by small boats across the Channel".

The crossings follow a number of migrant rescues in recent months involving people trying to reach Britain via the Channel.

Authorities were called to five separate incidents on Christmas Day, with some of those rescued including young children.

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