Female refugee's body washes up on French beach after trying to swim Channel
THE body of a female refugee wearing a wetsuit who tried to swim across the Channel has been found on a beach in northern France.
Cross-Channel swimming attempts are banned in French territorial waters due to the heavy maritime traffic and strong currents
The illegal immigrant carrying a compass and energy food bars is thought to have drowned and been washed back ashore after attempting the hazardous 21-mile crossing.
The young woman of Asian origin also had spare clothes in a plastic pouch and was smeared with Vaseline to prevent irritation during the swim through the world's busiest shipping lane.
Police in Calais said her body was found on a beach near the coastal town of Wimereux on Sunday evening.
It is the first ever time an illegal immigrant had made the highly dangerous bid to reach the English coast.
Boulogne public prosecutor Jean-Philippe Joubert said: "The body was spotted by a passer-by on Sunday evening.
"She was wearing a wetsuit and still wet. We found clothes in a bag on cliffs above the beach.
"She was prepared for long distance swimming with Vaseline on her skin to prevent irritations.
"She also had more clothes in a plastic bag underneath her wetsuit and a pocket containing energy food bars and a compass.
"Swimming the Channel is a highly dangerous thing to do and is only ever attempted by very experienced swimmers with a support vessel."
There are thought to be around 1,000 illegal immigrants massed in northern France.
A film released three years ago called Welcome centred on a Kurdish refugee who takes swimming lessons before trying to swim to the Kent coast.
It attracted harsh criticism for presenting the bid to breach border controls as a "noble quest".
A Calais police spokesman added: "It may have been depicted in a fictional film, but this is the first time we have ever seen any illegal immigrant actually try to swim the channel.
"In this case all the evidence points to the fact the woman was one of the hundreds of refugees currently living on the northern French coast.
"Initial tests show she died by drowning but a full post mortem examination is being carried out."
Two Russian migrants attempted to reach Britain in a kayak 15 years ago, but they were intercepted by a French coastguard vessel.