The first victim of Wednesday’s tragedy in the Channel has been named as Mariam Nouri Hamadameen, a 24-year-old Kurdish woman from northern Iraq.
She had travelled to Germany and on to France, hoping to join her fiance who already lives in Britain.
Mariam – known to her family as Baran – was a student and recently engaged. She had left her studies early to be with her fiance.
A lifeboat member took this picture of the remains of the boat
“Her mother and father are totally devastated,” her cousin told Sky News.
“The situation is just awful. She was a woman in the prime of her life.
“It’s a total tragedy and the whole family are in shock,” said Krmanj Ezzat, speaking from the family home in northern Iraq.
He sent a message to other young Kurds considering taking the journey: “I understand why so many people are leaving for a better life, but this is not the correct path. It’s the route of death.
“Please don’t take this route, it’s not worth it.”
And to the British and French governments, he had this to say: “We hoped that Britain and France would accept us in a better way.
“Anyone who wants to leave their home and travel to Europe has their own reasons and hopes, so please just help them in a better way and not force them to take this route of death.”
Seventeen men, seven women, two teenage boys and a girl died off Calais while trying to reach the UK in an inflatable boat.
There were two survivors – from Somalia and Iraq.
A mayday call obtained by Sky News shows the French coastguard requesting help from “all ships” after more than a dozen bodies were spotted motionless in the water.
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Charles Devos, regional manager of lifeboat association (SNSM) in Calais, was among the first at the scene.
He said he dragged six bodies from the sea, including a pregnant woman.
“I can’t remember such a tragedy. It’s inexplicable,” he said.
“I saw the blow-up boat had really deflated. Was it a valve that came loose or did it hit an object? You never know but I don’t think it was a collision.”
PM ‘not serious’ over Channel crossings – Macron
The Kurdish government told Sky News yesterday that Kurds were among the victims and has appealed to the UK and EU for help stopping migrants from leaving Iraq.
Wednesday’s incident is by far the worst loss of life among people trying to reach Britain by sea and has led to a diplomatic fall-out between France and the UK over how to stop the crossings.
France cancelled a meeting to discuss the crisis after Boris Johnson asked the French to take back migrants arriving in Britain.
The country’s interior minister also told Home Secretary Priti Patel “she was no longer welcome” at Sunday’s European meeting.
Numbers reaching the UK by sea have surged from 8,417 in 2020 to more than 25,000 so far this year.
Boris Johnson has offered to send British personnel to northern France to help stop the crossings alongside local patrols.
However, critics have suggested it wouldn’t make much difference given the coastline used by the boats is several hundred kilometres long.
The prime minister said in his letter to Mr Macron that the “single biggest step” would be to return migrants who reach UK shores to France.
He said it would take away the incentive for people to attempt the dangerous journey.