UK: Man arrested following Channel drowning disaster which left 27 people dead

UK: Man arrested following Channel drowning disaster which left 27 people dead
UK police have arrested a man over the drowning of at least 27 people, who died when their small boat capsized in the English Channel and neither the French nor English emergency services responded with urgent assistance.
2 min read
29 November, 2022
Heartbroken relatives wrote to the UK PM on the anniversary of the Channel drowning disaster [source: Getty]

British police on Tuesday arrested a man over the deaths of at least 27 people who drowned while trying to cross the English Channel in a small boat last year.

The UK’s National Crime Agency said Harem Ahmed Abwbaker, 32, was detained in the town of Cheltenham in southwest England after an investigation by UK and French authorities.

He is accused of being a member of an organized crime gang that was behind the dangerous crossing.

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Only two people survived when the packed boat sank between France and England on November 27, 2021. Twenty-seven are confirmed to have died and four are still missing.

"The individual detained today is suspected of having played a key role in the manslaughter of those who died," crime agency deputy director Craig Turner said.

Abwbaker is due to appear Wednesday at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court to face a French extradition request.

Migrants have long used northern France as a launching point to reach Britain, often attempting the journey because there are no safe, legal routes available if they want to claim asylum in the UK. 

Call logs from French and English authorities, released as part of an investigation, found that distress calls from the capsized boat were made multiple times. These calls were repeatedly ignored, with people left in the icy waters for up to 12 hours. 

27 bodies were found after the disaster. Four people are still missing and two survived.