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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 June, 2003, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Stowaway's possible asylum aim
Coastguard helicopter
The man had been found on board as a stowaway and arrested
A stowaway who died after jumping into the English Channel may have been an asylum seeker who thought he was on a ship to Britain, coastguards have said.

A rescue operation was launched when the 25-year-old man fell into the sea off the coast of Beachy Head near Eastbourne in East Sussex, at about 0230 BST on Wednesday.

Dover Coastguard co-ordinated the search, which involved a rescue helicopter, cargo ferry and the warship Lindisfarne, which was on patrol protecting fishermen.

But the man, from the Ivory Coast, was found dead in the sea after a one-and-a-half hour search.

It is possible he thought the ship was coming to England where he wanted to claim asylum
Coastguard spokesman
He had hidden on a container ship, the Patricia Delmas, travelling from Belgium to the French Port of Le Havre.

Police will investigate the cause of death, thought to be drowning or hypothermia, a coastguard spokesman said.

The man had been arrested on board the vessel as a stowaway.

Les Drew, of Dover Coastguard, said: "He was actually being held in the ship's jail and managed to escape.

"Obviously when the crew got him he was on the upper deck and he decided to jump overboard.

"We have many details about him because the ship's crew had taken them down when he was apprehended.

"We don't know why he stowed away because he was only going from Belgium to France.

"It is possible he thought the ship was coming to England where he wanted to claim asylum."




SEE ALSO:
Stricken sailors saved by text
18 May 03  |  Hampshire/Dorset


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