'Robinson Crusoe' Migrant Rescued From Makeshift Raft Off Calais

A young Afghan migrant, desperately attempting to reach Britain, attempted to sail across the channel on Robinson Crusoe-like raft of wooden planks, a bed sheet and a table leg.


The 23-year-old had to be rescued a mile from the French coast, dressed only in a woolly jumper, drenched and suffering from hypothermia. He had no documentation, only a tiny rucksack, and has not yet been identified.

The strong easterly wind had carried him away from the land, towards Cap Blanc Nez, when he was spotted by the crew of a P&O ferry.

An increasing number of migrants are attempting more and more dangerous methods to reach Britain from Calais, by sea or stowing away in suffocating spaces in vehicles. Last month, four hopeful migrants were taken to hospital suffering from severe hypothermia after attempting the sea crossing.

Bernard Barron, head of Calais coastal rescue, told the Mirror: "He was upset at being caught to begin with, but was then very happy to be safe.

"Because of the very strong winds and currents, it would have been impossible for him to get to Britain, even in a rowing boat.

"If the wind had risen, or the raft had collided with a ferry, it would have capsized and the man would have died."

P&O spokesman Brian Rees also told the paper: "It all looks fairly benign. But to my seafaring colleagues it looks like a person who is very fortunate to have been spotted before it all went horribly wrong.

"The water temperature in the Dover Strait is about 50F (10C) at the moment. That's enough to throw somebody not used to it straight into cold water shock.

"A normal person trying to swim in that, it is a matter of minutes before the blood goes to the body's core and you can't move your arms and legs whether you want to or not.

"Also the tide flows through the Strait, not across it. At the full tidal flow it moves at something like five or six knots - a lot of joggers don't move that fast."