Paris: More than 20 migrants died after their boat capsized in the English Channel, the French interior minister has told news agency AFP. As per preliminary reports, fishermen have found 15 bodies floating in the water. On the other hand, a French navy vessel recovered five bodies and five other people unconscious.Also Read - Maharashtra Boat Capsize: Death Toll rises to 10; 1 Person Still Missing

The incident happened when these migrants were crossing the English Channel from France to England and their boat sank off the northern port of Calais. Also Read - Maharashtra Boat Capsize: 3 Dead, Several Feared Drowned in Amravati's Varada River, Search Operation Underway

Issuing a statement, the French interior ministry said that French patrol vessels found bodies and people unconscious in the water after a fisherman sounded the alarm about the accident. Also Read - 5 Dead, 5 Missing After Boat Capsizes in Bihar's Gandak River

Local authorities told news agencies that three helicopters and three boats have been deployed to take part in the search operation.

“The disaster in the Channel is a tragedy,” said Prime Minister Jean Castex. “My thoughts are with the many missing and injured, victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their distress and misery,” he wrote on Twitter.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said on Twitter that he was on his way to the spot. “Strong emotion in front of the tragedy of the numerous deaths due to the capsizing of a boat of migrants in the English Channel,” Darmanin wrote.

Another interior ministry official told French news agencies that the national marine services had recovered “several bodies, including five people and five others were unconscious.

Till now this year, nearly three migrants have drowned off the coast of Calais, while four people remain missing. In the meantime, the UK has urged for tougher action from France to stop migrants making the voyage.

As per updates from the French authorities, over 31,500 people have attempted to leave for Britain since the start of the year and 7,800 people have been rescued at sea, figures which doubled since August.

Seven people have been confirmed dead or are still missing feared drowned after various incidents this year.