15 migrants rescued off Belgian coast after boat sinks trying to reach Britain

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Fifteen migrants attempting to reach Britain were rescued off the Belgian coast after their inflatable dinghy began sinking, authorities said on Sunday.

The raft, built for a capacity of seven, left the French town of Dunkirk late Friday and a passenger was able to make an emergency call several hours later.

The Belgian coast guard rescued the passengers about 11 kilometers (six miles) offshore and took them to the port of Ostende.

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The passengers, all male adults, were from Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait, a prosecutors statement said.

“Human traffickers increasingly put migrants onto small rubber boats and push them out into the North Sea, usually from the French coast,” said Frank Demeester, a spokesman for the prosecutors office.

The objective is to get close enough to British waters and be brought to shore by the UK coastguard after a distress call, the official added.

No arrests were made in the operation and prosecutors will attempt to use phone evidence to identify the human traffics involved, the statement said.

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