Rescatado un afgano cuando intentaba cruzar el Canal de la Mancha en una balsa de madera [ENG]

7 mayo, 2014


It was a miracle he made it out to sea at all.

Yet this young Afghan migrant had hoped to cross the Channel on a raft made of a few nailed-together bits of plank, with a bedsheet held by tent poles for a sail.

His desperate attempt reach  Britain almost ended in disaster as his makeshift craft was blown into the path of a P&O passenger ferry near Calais. Fortunately the crew of the Spirit of Britain spotted the 23-year-old.

When rescued from the world’s busiest shipping lane, he was drenched and suffering from hypothermia.

He told French coastguards his dream was to ‘travel to England to start a new life’ and he would stop at nothing to get here.

Coastguard chief Bernard Barron said the young migrant, spotted drifting off Sangatte on Monday at 2pm, would never have made it to the UK.

His raft was so flimsy he would probably have been killed – and the wind was in the wrong direction, blowing him up the coast rather than across the Channel.

‘He was upset at being caught to begin with, but was then very happy to be safe,’ said Mr Barron. ‘If the wind had risen, or the raft had collided with a ferry, then he would have capsized and died.’

The man, who had no documents and refused to give his name, received medical treatment before being handed over to French border police.

Last night sources in Calais said the man would almost certainly have been released without charge – leaving him free to try to reach the UK again.

His desperate attempt comes as many of the hundreds massing in Calais to get to Britain increasingly put their lives in danger by plunging into the sea.

Mr Barron said the man had built his raft using wooden planks, a float wrapped in tarpaulin, and a table leg supporting a makeshift mast and white sheet.

‘He was upset at being caught to begin with, but was then very happy to be safe’

The man, who did not have any documents on him and cannot be identified, was dressed in a blue tracksuit and woolly hat, and carried all his possessions in a small rucksack on his back.

Mr Barron said the Afghan’s brave solo effort, discovered on Monday, was undoubtedly nothing to do with the gangs of people smugglers currently operating in Calais.

‘They do not encourage migrants to travel alone, and certainly not in the sea,’ he said, saying that the migrant was ‘handed over to the border police’ after medical treatment.

He was then likely to be freed without charge – leaving him free to continue to try and get to Britain, where he will claim asylum or else disappear into the black economy.

Last month four would-be immigrants to Britain were taken to hospital suffering from severe hypothermia after being caught in the sea off Calais.

In a further sign of the desperate methods being used by the migrants, all were trying to get aboard England-bound ferries moored in the harbour.

It follows four other migrants dying in a single week in Calais as they risked life and limb for the chance to claim residency in the UK.

Clutching waterproof bundles full of food and other essentials, the men swam out from Fort Risban, part of the city’s ancient fortifications.

‘The idea was to swim out to the ferries so as to avoid customs and other checks,’ said a local police spokesman.

‘Fisherman spotted them, and alerted the authorities. Port patrol cars were on the quay alongside them within a few minutes.

Three of the men were plucked out of the water relatively easily, but one went missing and got into difficulty into deep water.

The body of an Eritrean who also tried to swim across the harbour drowned in exactly the same spot last October.

Hundreds of migrants from outside the EU are living in a camp yards from the perimeter fence of Calais port.

Charities say there are more than 650 in the town, the greatest number since the closure of the Red Cross camp at Sangatte in 2002 – and they are taking advantage of gaps in security and a minimal police presence.

On March 9 an Albanian man was killed on a motorway outside the town. Three days later, Ethiopian Mesfin Germa was hit by a lorry as he walked to the port.

The body of a 25-year-old Ethiopian man, Senay Berthay, was found in Calais’s  Batellerie dock on March 14 and the next day a fellow Ethiopian in his 20s was crushed to death by a car while hiding on a  vehicle transporter.

It is thought he had been among a group of three men who got on the truck and then realised it was going in the wrong direction.

The migrants play a nightly game of cat and mouse with the police as they try their luck at getting to Britain.



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