Written by Staff Writer, CNN
British authorities say 10 French nationals drowned, including six minors, on Sunday night in the Channel Islands, in what has been dubbed “the worst tragedy to hit the islands since the Second World War.”
The bodies of the victims were found on the island of Guernsey and the Isle of Man, according to an English statement.
Seventeen more French nationals were rescued, some by speed boats and all in “bad physical condition,” the Foreign Office said. The identities of the dead have not been released.
“Their families have been informed and are being supported by the French consulate and a crisis cell established by Guernsey and Isle of Man authorities,” the statement said.
According to Guernsey Police, two passengers died after the boat sank in foggy conditions on Sunday evening.
“Due to the poor visibility, it was not possible to find them while awaiting rescuers, however sadly it was confirmed that one person had died upon arrival at the hospital and a second person subsequently died whilst receiving treatment for their injuries,” it said in a statement.
Police said it wasn’t immediately clear how the boat had sunk or whether it had been carrying more than nine passengers.
Video showed footage from a speedboat that escorted four lifeboats to bring in the survivors, the BBC reported.
The Foreign Office said it “was providing consular assistance and will continue to work closely with the relevant authorities.”
The British ministry said the French authorities had already begun to investigate the cause of the sinking.
‘Worst tragic event’
France has sent rescue vessels and experts to assist in the investigation.
“An investigation is currently underway, and we will only be able to speculate about causes once the inquiry is completed,” a Guernsey Police statement said.
Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has ordered “extensive information mobilization,” his office said in a statement.
French President Emmanuel Macron was scheduled to discuss the tragedy with his British counterpart, Theresa May, during their first meeting after the elections on Monday, the Daily Telegraph reported.
“It is with great sadness that I learned of the tragedy in the Channel Islands of Guernsey and the Isle of Man,” May said in a statement.
“At this very sad time, my thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims. I will continue to work closely with our French allies to support the authorities responding to this tragedy and to learn more about the circumstances of this tragedy,” she said.