PARIS – French rescuers on Wednesday abandoned the hunt for survivors from a boat carrying migrants that capsized while trying to cross the English Channel to Britain, leaving at least four people dead.
British media identified the victims as a Kurdish-Iranian couple and two of their children. A further 15 people were rescued.
Emergency services called off their search on Tuesday night because of darkness and bad weather. They did not resume Wednesday morning because there was no chance of finding anyone still alive, according to an official with the French maritime agency for the Channel and North Sea region.
The BBC identified the dead family as Rasoul Iran-Nejad and Shiva Mohammad Panahi, both 35, and their children Anita, 9, and Armin, 6. It said the couple's 15-month-old son Artin is missing.
Politicians and aid groups said the deaths must prompt a change of course from the British government, which has promised in vain to stop migrants making the dangerous journey in small boats.
Opposition Labour Party lawmaker Yvette Cooper said “we have feared that we would see a tragedy like this for a long time.”
“The journey is perilous and we’ve seen an increase in the number of these small boat crossings, these really flimsy boats,” Cooper told the BBC. She said the government did not have “a clear enough analysis of the reasons why people are making this journey.”
French investigators are questioning the survivors to determine exactly how many people were aboard and if any others might have drowned, the French maritime official said. She could not confirm reports that a baby was among the missing.