French Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin have condemned human trafficking after 31 people died when their boat capsized in the English Channel.
He said: “Today is an appalling situation for France, Europe and humanity to see these people perish at sea because of traffickers”.
The minister added that 255 people succeeded in getting across the Channel to England on Wednesday, with another 681 people stopped.
Mr Darmanin said: “So we’re talking about a day like any other days of migrants who… want to go to England at their risk and peril and often like today we see these appalling dramas.”
He said the true criminals in this case are the people who charge up to 3,000 euros for migrants to embark flimsy dinghies to try and cross.
Mr Darmanin said French police have arrested four people suspected of being linked to the drowning.
Some 7,800 migrants have been saved at sea by French sailors since January 1, he added.
France’s prime minister said the drowning was a “tragedy” and his thoughts were with “victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their distress and injury”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is “shocked, appalled and deeply saddened” by the loss of life in the English Channel and the Government will “leave no stone unturned to demolish human trafficking gangs”.
Mr Johnson will chair a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee in response to the deaths, Downing Street said.