LONDON — British officers arrested a man as part of an investigation into the death of a woman thought to have died attempting to cross the English Channel in a small boat, the U.K. National Crime Agency said Wednesday.

The 21-year-old Sudanese man was detained on suspicion of illegal entry and facilitating illegal immigration in the southern English port town of Dover. The man, who is in custody, is suspected of piloting a boat which reached U.K. waters on Tuesday.

The arrest came after authorities in Calais, northern France, discovered a woman's body on a beach in the area on Tuesday.

The Pas-de-Calais region administration said the woman, reported to be a 24-year-old Eritrean migrant, was found on a beach in the French town of Bleriot-Plage after apparently falling from a boat trying to cross the English Channel.

Britain's National Crime Agency said French authorities were investigating the death, with support from British police.

The two countries were working together “to identify those responsible for this tragic death,” said Craig Turner, deputy director of the crime agency.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Conservative government has taken an increasingly punitive approach to people who arrive by unauthorized means such as small, unseaworthy boats across the English Channel. More than 45,000 people arrived in Britain by boat from northern France in 2022, up from 28,000 in 2021 and 8,500 in 2020.

Almost 24,000 migrants have arrived on U.K. shores by small boats since January.

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