United Kingdom

Three migrants rescued from sinking kayak by builder swimming from Dover to Calais for charity

Three migrants were rescued from their sinking inflatable kayak by a builder on his way home to Britain after swimming from Dover to Calais for charity today.

Justin Legge, 49, started the 21-mile journey at 1.30am, raising almost £24,000 in memory of a friend who died of leukaemia.

He was on his way back across the Channel in a small passenger boat when he spotted three young men stuffed on to a tiny inflatable blue and white two-person Sevylor Wabash canoe-kayak which was sinking around 3.30pm.

The migrants' inflatable kayak, which sells for £299.99 on Decathlon's website, was brought in by the Border Force vessel Hunter.

It comes after it was reported authorities were involved in the rescue of more than 120 migrants in small boats that took the dangerous crossing this morning. 

Three migrants were rescued from their sinking inflatable kayak while builder Justin Legge, 49,  wason his way home to Britain after swimming from Dover to Calais for charity today

The migrants were spotted in the kayak worth £299.99 (pictured) at around 3.30pm by the pilot of a boat taking Justin, of Bridge near Canterbury, Kent, back to the UK

A baby, a heavily-pregnant woman and young children were among the migrants to land on Kent beach earlier today as smugglers tell them to make dangerous Channel crossing before Brexit 'closes the door'. 

The migrants spotted by Justin were using their T-shirts to wave for help and were rapidly sinking around 10 miles off Dover.

The pilot of Justin's boat gave them water and face masks before taking them in.

A crowd of family and friends waving Union Jack flags were eagerly waiting for the boat, but it was first diverted to hand the three men over to Border Force officials at the marina shortly before 4pm.

Father-of-two Justin, says: 'We saw this dodgy cheap-looking little kayak and they were really sinking. 'We approached them and the pilot was really good. He gave them some water and decided to take them on board because if he left them, they would have drowned'

The migrants used their T-shirts to wave for help and were rapidly sinking around 10 miles off Dover

Father-of-two Justin, from the village of Bridge near Canterbury, Kent, said: 'I've just swam the Channel and I'm absolutely knackered.

'Then we saw this dodgy cheap-looking little kayak and they were really sinking.

'We approached them and the pilot was really good. He gave them some water and decided to take them on board because if he left them, they would have drowned.

'They were a really long way out - around 10 miles. So he phoned the authorities and brought them back in. They're lucky to still be alive.

'The three of them sat on the edge of the boat for the rest of the ride back.

Justin said: 'It was very strange. I know these sorts of crossings are a daily occurrence now but I never thought I'd see something like that first hand'

A crowd of family and friends waving Union Jack flags were eagerly waiting for Justin's boat (pictured), but it was first diverted to hand the three men over to Border Force officials at the marina shortly before 4pm

'One of the guys was watching them but they just sat there quietly and looked a bit embarrassed.

'It was very strange. I know these sorts of crossings are a daily occurrence now but I never thought I'd see something like that first hand.'

His wedding planner wife Charlotte, 35, was also on the boat.

She said: 'We were halfway across the Channel and our pilot spotted them.

'They're constantly looking for migrants and he noticed they were waving the flag of distress.

The pilot of Justin's boat gave the migrants (pictured) water and face masks before taking them in

'He rang the Coastguard and they said he had a duty of care to stay by them until they were rescued.

'But while we were giving them water, we noticed they were going down.

'The Coastguard were nowhere to be seen so the pilot put them on the end of the boat, gave them masks and gloves, and towed their boat back to shore.

'The pilot was quite concerned because they kept trying to get back into their boat but they had what looked like brand new trainers in there so maybe they just wanted to save them.

'All three of them just sat there quietly and looked quite tired. They all looked really young. Probably aged between 18 and 21.'

It has been reported that authorities have so far been involved in the rescue of more than 100 migrants in small boats that took the dangerous crossing this morning. Pictured: A heavily pregnant refugee arrived on the Kent coast today

A newborn baby is brought into Dover harbour amid the rush of migrants crossing the Channel today

A different groups of migrants, also including young children, was picked up by officials today at Dover

Earlier today, a group of around 16 refugees including 10 young children landed on Dungeness beach in Kent at around 8.30am, and a further cluster of migrants were pictured being rescued at nearby Dover.

A further three were later brought into the town's marina by a small white passenger boat carrying a charity swimmer at 4pm.

In total, 3,643 migrants have made the life-risking Channel crossing this year, nearly double the 1,850-odd who arrived in the whole of last year.

Last Thursday, a single-day record of 202 people in 20 boats landed. 

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