The inflatable dinghy that tragically capsized, which led to at least 27 people dying, may have collided with a container ship, according to reports.
Officials in France said the ship was “very fragile” before it got into trouble on Wednesday when its passengers tried to cross the English Channel to Britain.
Five women and a girl are said to be among the victims of the tragedy that has been called the deadliest event of its kind ever.
The official toll of the French government was initially 31, but was later revised to 27.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin described the victims’ ship as “very fragile” and added that it was “like a puddle you blow up in your garden.”
A reportage in The Voice of the North, a regional newspaper, claimed that the boat had “collided with a large ship” which it said was a “container ship”.
These reports have not yet been confirmed in the wake of the tragedy which has also left two people critically ill in hospital with severe hypothermia.
Two suspected human traffickers are currently in custody in Calais after being arrested north of Dunkirk near the Belgian border, according to the French daily Liberation.
The Dunkirk prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation into “aiding and abetting illegal entry into an organized group” and “aggravated manslaughter”.
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According to fishermen, more migrants left the northern shores of France than usual to take advantage of calm sea conditions, even though the water was bitterly cold.
A fisherman called the rescue service after seeing an empty dinghy and people floating motionless nearby.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “shocked, appalled and deeply saddened” by the tragedy.
He said: “Now is the time for all of us to step up and work together and smash these gangs that are literally getting away with murder”, adding “this shows that the gangs that send people to sea are literally going to stop nothing.”