Asylum-seeker drowns after jumping from ferry

An asylum-seeker drowned yesterday after jumping into the sea from a Channel ferry to escape security guards.

The Kosovan man, who was in his twenties, was being taken back to France after being caught with a friend trying to hide on a ferry to Dover.

He escaped from the custody of Hoverspeed security guards and leapt from the high-speed ferry two miles from the Kent port, at 11.30am.

A Hoverspeed spokesman said: "The two Kosovan men came over on a ferry which left Ostend at 7.45am UK time for Dover. They had valid tickets as foot passengers, but were seen as the ferry approached Dover walking around the car decks, which are off-limits ... Suspicions were aroused and they were detained until the ship arrived ... when it was found they were asylum-seekers."

Because the two men were discovered mid-Channel they could not claim asylum in Britain and were being sent back to the Continent. The spokesman said: "During the [return] crossing one of the Kosovars asked to go to the toilet. One of the security guards went with him, but the asylum-seeker barged his way ... on to the deck." He jumped overboard when guards found him.

A Dover coastguard officer said the ferry turned round to search, while the Dover lifeboat and Dover harbour launch were sent to help. He said: "Within 20 minutes the man was picked up by the lifeboat. He was unconscious.

"The lifeboat crew tried to resuscitate him during the 10-minute journey back to Dover lifeboat station ... but he was pronounced dead on arrival."

The other Kosovar was being brought back to Dover to be interviewed by police and immigration officers.

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