Authorities were called by a fisherman in the English Channel

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migrants English channel
Credit: BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty

At least 27 people have died after a small boat of migrants crossing the English Channel from France to Britain capsized.

On Wednesday, French and British authorities launched a search for survivors in the Strait of Pas-de-Calais after a boat carrying dozens of people capsized on its way to Britain, the Préfecture Maritime de la Manche et de La Mer du Nordsaid in a press release.

Authorities were notified of the accident after a fisherman found an empty dingy in the water and bodies floating nearby, according to France24.

"My thoughts are with the many missing and injured, victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their distress and misery," French Prime Minister Jean Castex tweeted, calling the accident a "tragedy."

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United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson also addressed the accident.

"I am shocked, appalled and deeply saddened by the loss of life at sea in the Channel," Johnson wrote on Twitter. "My thoughts are with the victims and their families."

He continued: "I also want to say that this disaster underscores how dangerous it is to cross the Channel in this way and it also shows how vital it is that we now step up our efforts to break the business model of the gangsters who are sending people to sea in this way."

According to Al Jazeera, French Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin confirmed that French authorities have arrested four people in connection with the drowning, which is being described as worst accident involving migrants trying to cross the the Channel in recent history.