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Channel Tunnel migrant crisis: Man dies as 1,500 try to enter

A man has been killed as at least 1,500 migrants tried to enter the Channel Tunnel in Calais on Tuesday night, French police have said.

Eurotunnel says freight services are disrupted while migrants are still at the Channel Tunnel site at Coquelles.

Sections of the M20 in Kent are closed in both directions to allow extra lorry parking as part ofOperation Stack.

It comes as David Cameron pledged that the UK government would do everything it could to combat the crisis.

The man who died is described as Sudanese, aged between 25 and 30.

He was probably crushed by a truck which was exiting one of the shuttles that transport vehicles through the tunnel, French police have said.

He is the ninth person to die trying to access the tunnel since June.


Travel latest

  • M20 closed London-bound from J9 to J8 and closed coast-bound from J8 to J11
  • Eurotunnel says its passenger services are running, with a delay of an hour on the UK side and some disruption on the French side
  • Freight services face a one-hour delay before check-in on the UK side; with a four-hour wait to check in in France
  • P&O ferries and DFDS Seaways say all their services are operating to schedule between Dover and Calais

‘Fingers of blame’

Eurotunnel – which manages and operates Channel Tunnel services – says passenger services are still running, with a delay of an hour to leave the UK.

It says migrant incursions are now “an almost nightly occurrence”. In addition to Tuesday night’s incident, some 2,000 migrants had tried to get into the terminal on Monday night.

It is an issue for the government to “sort out”, a Eurotunnel spokesman said. “We need them to stop the migrant flow from Calais but it appears to be too much for them to handle.”

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Speaking in Singapore, the prime minister said Home Secretary Theresa May would chair a meeting of the government’s emergency committee, Cobra, about the crisis later.

“I have every sympathy with holidaymakers who are finding access to Calais difficult because of the disturbances there and we will do everything we can to work with the French to bring these things to a conclusion,” Mr Cameron said.

“There’s no point trying to point fingers of blame, it’s about working with the French, putting in place these additional security measures, adding in the investment where that’s needed – Britain will always come forward with that.”

A Home Office spokesman said the £7m funding – originally outlined by the home secretary earlier this month – will pay for 1.2 miles of new fencing at the Eurotunnel site at Coquelles.

Work to put up fencing began earlier this month and was due to be completed this week, the Home Office added.

This week’s incursions have caused serious delays to Eurotunnel train services – with passengers held up for about an hour on the British side and 30 minutes on the French side on Tuesday, French news agency AFP reported.

Kent Police reintroduced Operation Stack following the incident, leading to long delays for lorries on sections of the M20 near the Channel Tunnel.

‘The way forward’

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has called for the Army to be drafted in to help search vehicles coming into Britain for illegal immigrants.

Don Armour, head of international affairs at the Freight Transport Association, backed his calls, saying: “They’re trained and they would know what to do.

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“It may not be the way forward that would be approved. But perhaps it could be one of a number of solutions that the government might like to consider because we could be talking about people’s lives,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight programme.

Migrants at Calais
Migrants on tracks at Calais

The home secretary held talks on the migrant issue with French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Tuesday, saying the two governments were working “in close collaboration and co-operation on this issue”.

“We are both clear that we need to ensure we are dealing with the terrible criminal gangs, the people smugglers, who are making a profit out of the human misery of many people,” Mrs May added.

‘We work together’

Asked why British taxpayers should be paying for a problem taking place on French soil, she said French authorities have also committed extra resources to security at Calais.

“We have juxtaposed controls at the border. We work together on dealing with this particular problem,” she added.

Earlier this month, Mrs May announced that a new secure zone would be created at Calais for UK-bound lorries in response to an unprecedented surge in migrants attempting to cross the Channel.

AFP says an official count at the beginning of July found that about 3,000 migrants – mainly from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and Afghanistan – were camping in Calais and trying to get across the Channel.


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