The body of an Iraqi man wearing a makeshift lifejacket was found floating in a port in northern Belgium, marking the first time a migrant’s body is found in Belgian waters.
The man’s lifeless body was found on Friday near a wind farm in the port of Zeebrugge, in West Flanders, according to reports of the incident on Monday.
He was wearing a makeshift lifejacket made out of a dozen plastic bottles and a fishing net and was wearing two pairs of jeans.
Authorities presume he drowned while attempting to swim across the English Channel from the Continent, according to RTBF.
“We don’t know what happened exactly. He probably tried to get to the United Kingdom by his own means,” Carl Decaluwé, governor of West Flanders, told the outlet.
The man was identified as an Iraqi national in his late forties who had already unsuccessfully applied for asylum in Germany, the outlet reported.
Decaluwé said that the clothes the man was wearing as he attempted to complete the crossing showed that he was not aware of the conditions at sea.
“The North Sea’s currents are life-threatening,” he said, adding that his attempt shows “how desperate he was.”
The governor told the outlet that he believed the Iraqi man to be the same person spotted by a Belgian seaman on Sunday near the French port city of Dunkirk. According to Decaluwé, the sailor had, unsuccessfully, tried to get the man out to leave the water.