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Exhausted migrants wade to Kent coast as record 409 make trip across Channel

Arrivals staggered onto the beach at Dover after their perilous journey (Picture: Steve Finn)

These dramatic images show migrants staggering onto the Kent coast after 27 boats took at least 409 people across the English Channel within 24 hours.

Exhausted arrivals were pictured wading through the water before collapsing on rocks after making the dangerous journey.

Today’s crossing beats the previous daily record of 235 set on August 6, with unverified reports that the final headcount could rise to 500 people.

One woman was seen lying on concrete steps in sodden clothes complaining about her stomach pains, while another was given a bottle of Coke for a sugar boost.

Migrants were seen wringing their soaked clothes after arriving in Kent (Picture: Steve Finn)
People were ferried across on lifeboats while empty rubber dinghies were towed along (Picture: PA)
Migrants waded through the water at the Port of Dover after the exhausting trip (Picture: Steve Finn)

Some were seen wringing out their soaked clothes, while others slept on the sand as they tried to recover from the tiring trip.

Flat seas and and balmy sunshine meant that France was clearly visible from Dover throughout the day, providing a perfect opportunity for people traffickers using small and often overcrowded boats.

At least eight dinghies are thought to have made it past Border Force boats and arrived on the coast of Kent unchecked.

Large numbers of migrants were seen being brought to port aboard Border Force patrol vessels and sitting on the front of lifeboats.

Two shattered arrivals help support each other as they stagger onto the beach (Picture: Steve Finn)
Some stumbled into the water during the last leg of their journey to Britain (Picture: Steve Finn)
A woman lies down on some concrete steps as she regains some energy (Picture: Steve Finn)

Some smiled and waved as they arrived while others carried toddlers too young to walk.

Numbers arriving were so high that dozens of migrants spent an hour sat on Border Force boats in the harbour before they were allowed to disembark. Meanwhile, empty dinghy after empty dinghy were towed in from the Channel.

A Coastguard spokeswoman said: ‘Today we have been assisting Border Force with incidents off Dover.

‘We are only concerned with preservation of life, rescuing those in trouble and bringing them safely back to shore, where they will be handed over to the relevant partner emergency services or authorities.’

A group of people wave as an RNLI boat arrives on the coast (Picture: PA)
Eight dinghies were thought to have made it past Border Force boats undetected (Picture: PA)
Immigration experts say threats of an imminent Home Office crackdown could be behind a recent surge of arrivals (Picture: Steve Finn)

A total of 5,600 migrants have arrived in small boats this year – including a single-month record of 1,428 in August.

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament that the UK is a ‘target and magnet’ for people traffickers and vowed to change the law to help tackle the crisis.

In recent weeks, the Home Office has sought to blame French authorities and ‘activist lawyers’ for rising numbers of crossings and difficulties removing asylum seekers once they arrive in Britain.

Last month, Home Secretary Priti Patel appointed former Royal Marine Dan O’Mahoney to the post of ‘clandestine Channel threat commander’.

He is expected to be among those giving evidence about migrant crossings to the Home Affairs Committee tomorrow.

Patel is trying to strike a dteal with France to allow migrant boats heading across the channel to be turned back.

But experts have suggested an increase in crossings could be driven by the Government’s hostile stance towards migrants.

Professional Officer of the Immigration Services Union Lucy Moreton told the Times: ‘It is all over the media and is common gossip that efforts are being made to stop this route.

‘The people smugglers recognise that and are pushing the message that the route is closing down. That is pushing demand. People are being told: get there while you can.’

In the Commons today immigration compliance minister Chris Philip said at least 1,000 migrants who had crossed the Channel had already claimed asylum in another EU country.

Today’s arrivals beat the previous daily record of 235 set on August 6 (Picture: PA)
In the Commons Boris Johnson said migrants are ‘falling prey to criminal gangs’ (Picture: PA)
Home Secretary Priti Patel has insisted France must get boats heading across the Channel to turn back (Picture: Steve Finn)

He said the Home Office was planning several chartered flights to the continent in the next few weeks to return these people.

Philip said France had managed to stop 3,000 crossings this year and prevented 84 people from making the trip today.

He told MPs: ‘The majority of these crossings are facilitated by ruthless criminal gangs who make money from exploiting migrants who are desperate to come here. We’re working with the National Crime Agency to go after those who profit from such misery.’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson added: ‘I have a great deal of sympathy with those who are so desperate as to put their children in dinghies or even children’s paddling pools and try to cross the Channel.

‘But I have to say what they’re doing is falling prey to criminal gangs and they are breaking the law.

‘They’re also undermining the legitimate claims of others who would seek asylum in this country.

‘That is why we will take advantage of leaving the EU by changing the Dublin regulations on returns and we will address the rigidities in our laws that makes this country, I’m afraid, a target and a magnet for those who would exploit vulnerable people in this way.’

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