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Inquest opened into deaths of four unidentified Channel Migrants who died last week


THE provisional cause of death of four migrants who died when a boat capsized in the Channel on December 14 was drowning, an inquest heard.

The inquest was opened by Kent area coroner Katrina Hepburn at County Hall in Maidstone yesterday (December 23).

Ms Hepburn said the victims were still unidentified.

It was "possible" two of them were from Afghanistan, while the others were Senegalese, a Kent Police report said.

It said: "The provisional cause of death is consistent with drowning."

The inquest was adjourned until a later date due to the ongoing police investigation.

On Monday, a man denied facilitating attempted illegal entry to the UK in connection with the migrant boat tragedy that the four lose their lives.

Ibrahima Bah, 19, of no fixed abode, appeared at Folkestone Magistrates' Court on Monday (December 19), when he pleaded not guilty to one count of knowingly facilitating the attempted arrival in the UK of people he knew or had reasonable cause to believe were asylum seekers..

He was remanded in custody to appear at Canterbury Crown Court on January 16.

The court heard there were between 43 and 48 other people on board the boat, and none had visas to enter the UK.

A major rescue operation took place off the Kent coast shortly after 2:00am on 14 December after reports of a boat in distress, with the Royal Navy, French Navy, Coastguard, RNLI lifeboats, ambulance service and police involved.

Four people - including a teenager - were pronounced dead. The rest were brought safely ashore.

The circumstances surrounding the deaths are being investigated by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, assisted by the National Crime Agency.

A Kent Police spokesman said: "A multi-agency search and rescue operation was carried out, resulting in 39 people being safely brought to shore. "Four other people were pronounced deceased. The circumstances surrounding the deaths are being investigated by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, assisted by the National Crime Agency." Officers are continuing to work to establish the identity of the deceased and locate the next of kin. Anyone who has any information which could assist enquiries into the incident should visit mipp.police.uk/operation/NATIONAL22Y08-PO1

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