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Body found in Dutch waters after migrant woman goes missing off Thanet

Officers searching for a missing migrant woman at sea have been told of a body found in Dutch waters.

It was discovered 11 days ago.

The woman had originally been spotted in a vessel of 20 migrants off the North Foreland in Thanet three weeks ago, on Friday, August 9.

The UK coastguard helicopter had been called out to find the woman
The UK coastguard helicopter had been called out to find the woman

The other 19 were rescued but she vanished.

An international search for her was launched but had to be called off the next day.

A Kent Police spokesman today said: "Officers carrying out inquiries to locate a missing person were notified of a body found in Dutch waters on Sunday, August 18.

"While formal identification has not yet taken place, it is believed the body discovered is that of the missing woman.

"Kent Police continues to support partner agencies and authorities in France to establish the circumstances of this incident."

Migrants have continually tried to reach the UK by small craft. This picture is from a suspected landing in Romney Marsh in June. Picture: Susan Pilcher
Migrants have continually tried to reach the UK by small craft. This picture is from a suspected landing in Romney Marsh in June. Picture: Susan Pilcher

The force says that it continues to work with the Home Office Immigration Enforcement Team and the National Crime Agency on this case.

Meanwhile a spokesman from the Netherlands Coastguard told Kent Online: "We received from a ship the message that they saw a body Afloat and they took IT on board.

" The Netherlands Coastguard coordinated with the police to pick up the body from that ship.

"That happened with an boat of the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM).

"Further investigationis by the police."

British coastguards had helped in the initial search. Library image
British coastguards had helped in the initial search. Library image

Following the tragic news the Home Office said it was liaising with the relevant British and international agencies.

A spokesman said: "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the missing woman at this terrible time.

“The Home Office will continue to liaise with other agencies as the investigation into this incident continues.

“Crossing the Channel in a small boat is a huge risk.

" The criminal gangs who perpetuate this are ruthless and do not care about loss of life.”

HM Coastguard had co-ordinated a search and rescue response on Friday, August 9, after reports of a person in the water about 24 nautical miles off North Foreland.

Next morning the Belgian coastguard service also joined in.

HM Coastguard confirmed that afternoon that the search had to be called off pending further information.

Of the 19 people rescued, five were from Iraq and 14 for Iran. They consisted of nine men, six women and four children.

They were all medically assessed, found to be well and transferred to immigration officials for interview.

There have been repeated cases over the last year of migrants trying to reach the UK on small vessels.

Other cases have occurred in the areas of Dover, Deal, Folkestone and Romney Marsh.

During 2019, up to July 22, therewere 1,150 attempts by individuals to cross the Channel illegally.

About 725 people arrived in the UK and 425 were intercepted on the French side of the Channel.

The figures were given that day to the Home Affairs Committee by the then Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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