Suspected people smugglers rescued near Dover

Two men rescued from a small boat off the Kent coast this morning are being questioned

Suspected people smugglers rescued near Dover

Image: Google Maps

An RNLI Lifeboat from Dover was scrambled just after 8am to help the 4.5-metre-long cruiser, which was reported to be in difficulties in St Margaret's bay, four miles north of Dover.

The pair were taken off the small vessel by the lifeboat crew and are reported to be unharmed. The boat had suffered engine difficulties.

An examination of the vessel discovered a large number of empty life jackets, but no sign of any migrants.

The two men, both understood to be EU nationals, have now been transferred to a Border Force cutter and taken to Dover port for questioning by immigration enforcement officers. Their vessel has also been seized.

Border Force teams have intercepted an increasing number of migrants trying to cross the English Channel by boat in recent weeks.

Last weekend, three migrants from Iran were rescued from a small rigid inflatable off the Sussex coast near Hastings, after the boat got into difficulties.

A few days earlier, another group of three Iranians was intercepted in a small boat elsewhere in the Channel.

Last month, 18 Albanian migrants were rescued when the rigid inflatable they were on suffered engine failure near the village of Dymchurch in Kent.

Two British men onboard the vessel were detained by police and have since been charged with people smuggling.

Officials have urged migrants not to try to make the highly dangerous crossing of the English Channel in small, often unseaworthy boats.

The Channel is one of the World's busiest shipping lanes and suffers from strong tidal currents that can make crossing in small, less powerful vessels, extremely hazardous.