A migrant has been airlifted to hospital from the English Channel after a boat carrying approximately 40 people as the dinghy began to sink.
The boat is believed to have begun taking on water as it was headed for British shores on Thursday morning.
The rescue operation, involving French and Belgian air and sea units, is still ongoing, French authorities say.
Searches got under way at around 10am after a cargo ship reported to the authorities that a boat carrying roughly 40 people was in difficulty, with some overboard, just off the coast of Dunkirk.
An unconscious person was taken aboard the cargo ship’s lifeboat, and then transferred onto a French Navy vessel, he was later airlifted to a hospital in Calais.
He is believed to have suffered a cardio-respiratory arrest and was evacuated aboard a Belgian Air Force helicopter, French authorities have said.
Several others were also hoisted aboard the helicopter as the migrant boat sank while more were rescued by nearby fishing boats.
They were all transferred onto the French Navy’s Flamant patrol boat which was going to the port of Dunkirk.
Search and rescue operations remain under way in the Dover Strait, with a French Navy helicopter continuing to scout the area.
There have been a flurry of crossing attempts today, as following days of bad weather in the Dover Strait, lighter conditions have made it easier to cross.
The latest attempt to reach the United Kingdom come after French authorities intercepted at least 108 people trying to cross the Channel on Wednesday, with one person having to be airlifted to hospital in Dunkirk.
More than 10,000 people have now crossed the English Channel to make the life-threatening journey to the UK in small boats this year.
It comes as a new record for single day was set with at least 482 people crossing the Dover Strait on Wednesday on board 21 boats.
The journey has claimed many lives over the past year, among them were Rasoul Iran-Nejad and his wife Shiva Mohammad Panahi, who died along with their three children when their boat capsized on October 27 2020.
Their 15-month-old son Artin was reported missing following the tragedy and it was not until June this year that police confirmed a body found on the Norwegian coast was that of the young boy.