At least 27 dead after boats carrying migrants sink off France

PARIS — At least 27 people died after an inflatable boat carrying migrants sank off France’s east coast on Saturday, officials said.

French rescue helicopters rescued 90 people off the coast of Matignon, near the city of Nantes, officials said.

Police were interviewing witnesses to try to identify people who were in the boat, described as an inflatable vessel carrying migrants.

According to the French interior ministry, 94 migrants reached the French territory of Reunion island on Saturday.

Homeland Minister and Socialist party heavyweight Bernard Cazeneuve said France “is alert, at all times, and sends out its support.”

The focus of international action on illegal migration has shifted to the Mediterranean Sea this year. Migrants seeking to get to the European Union on flimsy vessels crossing from Africa typically depart from the coast of Libya.

Migrants face perilous conditions, with smugglers often getting the money for the sea crossing and leaving the migrants adrift or abandoned at sea.

Amid the rising death toll in the Mediterranean, France has moved more quickly than other EU countries to set up detention centers for those who arrive on its territory, by setting up camps in two northern regions.

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