Two Iranian illegal migrants have successful made it across the English Channel from France, after being brought ashore by lifeguards in Kent.
The men were well prepared for the journey, with life jackets, water and mobiles phones on board. They called 999 after becoming stuck just a mile and a half off the English coast in the early hours of the morning.
The migrants had no idea where they were, but were located after staff on a passing ferry spotted the light from their mobile phone.
They were taken into Dover harbour where they received food and medical treatment before being handed over to immigration officials.
Such clandestine sea crossings are not unknown, but this could be the first known to succeed.
The French Coastguard said they had seen a sudden spike in the number of migrants attempting to cross by sea last month, after security was tightened around Calais port and the Euro tunnel, and the ‘Jungle’ camp was dismantled.
The French revealed they had intercepted a number of boats so far this year, and promised to beef up patrols around the Calais area as a precaution.
The worrying development has raised the prospect that the spectacle of flimsy migrant boats appearing over the horizon, now so familiar in Greece, could become a reality in the south of England.
Interviewed James Clapham from Dover RNLI who rescued 2 middle aged migrants-says 1st incident of its kind this year pic.twitter.com/LVFSBm4UXR
— Sarah Hajibagheri (@SaraHajibagheri) April 14, 2016
Andy Roberts from Dover RNLI told the BBC: “The Pride of Canterbury P&O ferry, leaving Dover harbour, spotted a very weak light that flashed occasionally and they slowed down and diverted towards this light.
“It was a mobile phone that was being held up. They [the migrants] had been at sea for in excess of seven hours and they were very cold and rather shaken up but Dover lifeboat diverted because of their condition and concern.”
A spokesman for the Home Office said the two men had been “handed to immigration officials by Kent Police for questioning”.
He said border security was “paramount” and they always worked with partners to “detect and deter” people who tried to reach the UK illegally.