(Fox News) — Britain and France escalated a war of words on Friday after 32 people, including children, drowned in a kayak and a dinghy on the French side of the English Channel after their vessel overturned. The tragedy is an embarrassment for a cross-channel French prosecutor who claimed that British authorities had failed to respond to a distress call by one of the victims.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday there had been a grave error on the part of British coastguards and that a planned 10-kilometer foot patrol by France was “allowing the boat to sink.”
He said Britain had delayed informing French authorities of the situation.
“[We] offered, and were offered, a helicopter, but they would only pass it on so late,” he said.
“This reinforces the need for an improvement in the procedure, not only in this case, but for all times, before the British authorities are required to rescue people, and for a much more effective co-ordination between the two countries, despite strong co-operation between the two countries.”
It is the first major tragedy on French soil since April 2017, when 40 people lost their lives when their boat sank in the Strait of Gibraltar.