Afghan man rescued from homemade raft as he tried to cross English Channel

Afghan man rescued from homemade raft as he tried to cross English Channel
French rescuers supporting the 23-year-old Afghan, who had tried to cross the Channel on a makeshift raft on Monday, off Sangatte.

He had a bedsheet held together by tent poles for a sail.

He built his raft using wooden planks and a table leg supporting the makeshift mast and the bedsheet.

A desperate, young Afghan hoped to cross the English Channel from Calais, France, on the raft he built himself.

But it was a miracle he made it out to sea at all.

His desperate attempt to reach Britain almost ended in disaster as his makeshift craft was blown into the path of a passenger ferry near Calais, Mail Online reported.

Fortunately, the crew of the Spirit of Britain spotted the 23-year-old.

When rescued from the world's busiest shipping lane, he was drenched and suffering from hypothermia.

He told French coast guards that his dream was to "travel to England to start a new life", and he would stop at nothing to get there.

The man, who did not have any documents on him and cannot be identified, was dressed in a blue tracksuit and woolly hat, and carried all his possessions in a small rucksack on his back.

Coast guard chief Bernard Barron said the migrant, spotted drifting off Sangatte, near Calais, on Monday at 2pm, would never have made it to England.

His raft was so flimsy that he would probably have been killed - and the wind was in the wrong direction. It took him back to the coast rather than across the Channel.

"He was upset at being caught to begin with, but was then very happy to be safe," Mail Online quoted Mr Barron as saying.

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

MEDICAL TREATMENT

The man received medical treatment before he was handed over to French border police.

The French authorities said he would almost certainly be released without charge, which leaves him free to attempt the crossing again, probably in a better raft.

The man's desperate attempt comes as many of the hundreds of migrants massing in Calais to get to Britain increasingly put their lives in danger by plunging into the sea.

Last month, four would-be immigrants to Britain were taken to hospital suffering from severe hypothermia after being caught in the sea off Calais.

This article was published on May 8 in The New Paper.

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