The man was charged with facilitating attempted irregular entry into the UK as the government scrambles to pass new legislation to prevent crossings.

An inflatable boat filled with dozens of migrants sank into the freezing waters on Wednesday, December 14.
An inflatable boat filled with dozens of migrants sank into the freezing waters on Wednesday, December 14. (Reuters Archive)

The United Kingdom has charged a 19-year-old man over a deadly incident in the English Channel in which a boat packed with migrants capsized, resulting in the loss of four lives.

UK police on Sunday said the suspect, who they named as Ibrahima Bah, of no fixed address, had been charged with abetting irregular immigration.

Bah had been remanded in custody and will appear before magistrates in the southern coastal town of Folkestone on Monday, Kent Police said.

The migrant boat got into trouble in freezing temperatures early on Wednesday, sparking a rescue operation by a fishing boat, Britain's coastguard and other emergency responders.

One of those who died in Wednesday's tragedy was a teenager, regional authorities said. 39 migrants, including 12 children, were rescued.

READ MORE: 'Enough is enough': UK PM Rishi Sunak vows crackdown on illegal immigration

'A stark reminder'

The sinking came just over a year after at least 27 people died in the Channel in another incident that saw British and French officials face manslaughter charges.

A higher death toll appears to have only been averted on Wednesday thanks largely to the crew of the fishing trawler Arcturus, who discovered the dozens of migrants clinging to stricken inflatable vessels.

The crew are believed to have saved 31 of the 39 people rescued.

In a joint statement issued late on Wednesday, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and British counterpart Suella Braverman said the incident was "a stark reminder of the urgent need to destroy the business model of people-smugglers."

The UK government is trying to pass new laws to prevent the record numbers of migrants from attempting the Channel crossing, including making any such arrivals inadmissible for asylum claims.

More than 40,000 people have crossed the Channel in small boats in 2022, the highest number since these figures began to be collected in 2018.

In 2021, the total was 28,526 people, while in 2020, it was 8,404.

READ MORE: France, UK sign new deal to block migrant Channel crossings

Source: TRTWorld and agencies