TRIBUTES have poured in to the people who drowned in the channel trying to reach the UK.

France’s prime minister said the shipwreck on Wednesday was a “tragedy” and his thoughts were with “victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their distress and injury”.

French politician Franck Dhersin said a boat with more than 50 people aboard had sunk in the middle of the Channel, according to the Press Association.

Mr Dhersin said on Twitter that at least 24 people had died in the capsizing while others had survived.

Lesley Sedgwick Fursey said: "There is a video showing another boat full getting ready to leave this morning. Loads of cameramen filming it and the police sat watching them all.

"Why aren't they stopping them? Why aren't they arresting the gang masters? This tragedy could have been avoided if the French police stepped up and made some arrests, instead of ignoring the whole thing."

Charlie Dowthwaite said: "If there were free flowing migration unhindered then they wouldn't have to use dinghies to enter the UK. Open the borders and allow them in."

Michael Fell said: "Tragic. No matter what people's thoughts are on immigration, imagine how scared these people were. What was their crime? Trying to achieve a better life?"

Christopher Wilde said: "To claim asylum in the UK, you have to be in the UK. This is why they make the journey over to the UK. The government needs to change this and have a spot in Europe were they can claim.

Lee Wicks said: "I find this desperately sad.

"20 plus innocent people die in the bitterly cold channel, frightened and scared, and the go to place for some people is to score political points.

"Shame on you, your inhumanity is palpable.

"The emergency search was sparked when a fishing boat sounded the alarm earlier on Wednesday after spotting several people at sea off the coast of France."