PARIS — Less than a day after at least 27 migrants died while trying to cross from France to Britain by boat, in the worst migrant tragedy in the English Channel in years, the two countries were sparring Thursday over who was to blame and what should be done in the future.

Britain reiterated calls for joint patrols along the French coast in hopes of preventing migrants from starting the perilous journey across the channel, and France demanded more support from its neighbors. “Yesterday was the moment that many of us have feared for many years,” British Home Secretary Priti Patel told Parliament.

In a letter to his French counterpart on Thursday evening, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for the establishment of “joint patrols” by Britain and France or by “private security contractors.” Johnson also called for a pact that would allow migrants to be deported back to France.

Previous British proposals of joint patrols had raised concerns in France over sovereignty. The French government accuses Britain of a lack of action against traffickers as well as businesses that employ undocumented migrants. On Thursday, the French called for more European and British support for their efforts to combat human trafficking in the channel.

In a phone call with Johnson on Wednesday evening, French President Emmanuel Macron “underlined the shared responsibility” and urged Britain to “refrain from exploiting a dramatic situation for political purposes,” the Élysée presidential palace said early Thursday.

Speaking on French radio Thursday, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said “pregnant women, children died” in the tragedy in the channel.

A local prosecutor told Agence France-Presse that 17 men, seven women and three presumed minors are known to have died. Efforts to identify the victims and their countries of origin were underway.

Two people, from Iraq and Somalia, survived and were treated for hypothermia, according to Darmanin.

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