Three illegal immigrants from China have been found dead in waters off Hong Kong after they apparently tried to swim to the wealthy former British colony, a news report said Tuesday.
The bodies were found in separate locations on Saturday and Monday and the victims are believed to have come from southern China, where tens of thousands of people have been made jobless by factory closures, dpa reported.
One of the three men, found on the western side of Hong Kong's New Territories, was wearing an inflatable life ring and is believed to have drowned trying to swim across the border, the South China Morning Post reported.
The bodies of the two other men were found along the coast close to Hong Kong's border with mainland China which can be crossed at sea by a swim of just 500 metres, said police officers quoted by the newspaper.
Police surveillance in waters around the Hong Kong and China border has been stepped up because of fears that more people will try to cross into the city of 6.9 million illegally in search of work, said a marine police superintendent.
Southern China, known as the world's workshop because of its huge export manufacturing base, has been particularly hard hit by the global economic slump with thousands of factories closing down.
Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" arrangement. It has an independent economy and maintains strict border controls with mainland China.