The bodies of two young Iraqis were found washed up on a beach in northern France Monday, a first in a region where migrants are taking to boats in growing numbers to try reach Britain.
On Monday morning, a passerby spotted the body of a 17-year-old Iraqi Kurdish youth on a beach in Le Touquet, about 70 kilometres (40 miles) south of the port of Calais, long a rallying point for migrants hoping to stow away on a truck or ferry to Britain.
A few hours later, another passerby spotted the body of a second Iraqi man, aged 22, on the same beach.
This is the first time that two migrants have been found dead on the same day on northern French shores.
The two men “probably came from the same boat,” which was found empty next to the body of the younger man, the region’s security department said.
Police found two oars inside the inflatable dinghy, and a canister of fuel and life vest nearby, security officials for the Pas-de-Calais region said.
A similar boat was found some 450 meters from the scene but it was not clear if the two were linked.
Over the past year, growing numbers of migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia have taken to the treacherous waters of the Channel in small fishing boats or inflatable dinghies.
Rights groups have linked the crossings to a police crackdown in Calais, which has made it harder for migrants to set up camp or try climb aboard a passing truck.
On Monday, eight migrants were intercepted on a beach near Calais and taken to a shelter.
Maritime authorities in northern France counted 1,473 migrants who tried to reach Britain’s shores by sea between January and August this year, compared with 586 in all of 2018.
In August, two migrants were found dead in the Channel - an Iranian woman who drowned after falling out of a packed migrant boat and an Iraqi man who was found dead off the Belgian port of Zeebrugge after trying to swim to England.
The Iraqi migrant is believed to have set off from a beach in northern France, with currents dragging him into Belgian waters.
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