The only two survivors of the disaster told Kurdish media that the migrants on the boat made distress calls that were ignored as their canoe deflated and their engine broke. They claim the British said the boat was in French waters, and the French the reverse. These accounts were confirmed by victim family members, who were in telephone contact during the attempted crossing.
The manslaughter lawsuit, filed Friday by the French humanitarian organization Utopia 56, accuses the maritime prefect of the Channel and North Sea, the Regional Operational Centre for Surveillance and Rescue of Gris-Nez in the Pas-de-Calais and the British Coast Guard of not doing enough to prevent the deaths.
Utopia 56 said it “intends that investigations be carried out to determine the responsibilities of the French and British rescue services in this tragedy,” adding that the people were abandoned “despite calls to the English and French rescue services.”
Nikolai Posner, Utopia 56’s spokesman, told The Associated Press on Monday that the lawsuit also intended to “remind our governments that it is urgent to question the policies at our borders, which take human lives every day.”
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