Migrant deaths: Something must have gone wrong almost immediately

Five people died in the waters off Wimereux.

It is, by any standards, a tragedy, but if you had just arrived here, you wouldn't know anything had happened.

There is no big police operation to be seen. No grieving relatives, no incident tape or flowers left on the ground. No pack of journalists gathering outside a police station, and no wreckage.

In some ways, it is like nothing happened. Except, of course, for the emotional echoes - the crew who brought lifeless people out of the water, or the unfortunate person who went out for a morning walk along the beach and found a dead body on the rocks.

Outwardly, though, there is no sign that death lingered over this pretty town. Wimereux, like much of this stretch of northern France, has long since grown accustomed to the role migration plays in its life.

Locals here say they regularly see people hiding in the dunes, or rushing down to the sea. They know how inadequate these boats are and so, wearily, they also know that, sometimes, things will go wrong.

It used to be that there was a long lull in crossings during the winter months, but that trend has died away over the past couple of years.

Certainly it's better to cross on a calm day in July, when the sun rises earlier and the sea is warmer. But those determined to reach Britain don't want to wait for long months to get their chance, and people-smugglers will respond.

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The reason why the lull came to an end is simple - the weather. Smugglers use phone apps that predict wind speed and sea conditions. Saturday was calm and the waves were small, which is why people set out for Britain. The early hours of Sunday morning were also marked by light winds, which is why the boat left Wimereux with around 70 people on board.

Something must have gone wrong almost immediately because it wasn't far from the shore before people went into the water.

In the summer, they might all have been able to reach the shore - I have seen countless people in soaking wet clothing - but in the freezing temperatures we have now, the water was desperately dangerous.

The sea was reckoned to be nine degrees, the sort of level at which hypothermia can arrive quickly and awfully. Little wonder that many people were in a bad state and no surprise, either, that not everyone survived.

And so, once again, we are back to the question of what can be done to stop these crossings. It is a political quandary that has been fizzing for so long, with no clarity that it can be resolved easily, or perhaps at all.

And as the debate rumbles on, so the boats will keep leaving.