2 Britons charged after migrant boat rescued from English Channel

LONDON (AFP) - British police on Monday (May 30) charged two men after 20 people, most of them migrants, were rescued from the English Channel when their inflatable boat began to take on water.

Two children and a woman were among the group of 18 Albanians and two Britons aboard the rigid-hulled inflatable boat, which got into trouble off the Kent coast, south-east England, late Saturday.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said that two British men, aged 33 and 35, had been charged with immigration offences and were due to appear in court.

Calais coastguard organisation SNSM assisted the British coastguard in the rescue operation, which ended around 2am on Sunday.

The passengers were taken to the nearby port of Dover to be interviewed by Border Force officers, the Home Office said.

"The castaways, who were migrants, called their families, who then alerted the authorities and rescue missions were triggered on both sides of the Channel," said SNSM president Bernard Barron.

Thousands of people have been massed in northern France for months, trying to reach Britain where they believe they will have a better chance of finding employment, according to French and British charities.

Officials warned last month that migrants from the so-called "Jungle" camp in Calais were stepping up efforts to reach Britain with summer on its way, with a sharp increase reported in migrant attempts to stow away in the back of lorries.

High winds, strong currents, heavy traffic and low water temperatures all make the Channel a treacherous stretch of water.