29 Jul 2015

Calais migrant crisis: one dead as ‘thousands storm’ tunnel

A spokesperson for Eurotunnel said one migrant had died and “1,500 migrants tried to storm the tunnel” on Tuesday night.

One migrant has died after reports that hundreds tried to enter the Channel Tunnel in Calais overnight. It is thought that he was a Sudanese national and aged between 25 and 30. He was hit by a truck as he tried to climb over a shuttle train.

The latest incident follows 2,000 migrants reportedly trying to gain entry to Eurotunnel’s French terminal on Monday night, causing chaos for cross-Channel travel.

According to French media, the migrant is the ninth person to be killed at the tunnel since the beginning of June. Desperate migrants appear to be taking increasingly dangerous risks in their attempts to reach the UK.

‘Hiding in the dark’

Eurotunnel said it had blocked more than 37,000 people attempting to cross over to the UK this year, and faces increasing pressure to deal with the migrant problem.

Eurotunnel spokesman John Keefe said migrants are waiting for darkness to break through fences.

“They feel that have got a better chance of hiding in the dark or escaping undetected. Searching the trains can take a very long time, and this could mean significant delays being caused to freight services,” he said.

But the French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, has accused Eurotunnel of not doing enough to contain the “worsening situation”.

Home Secretary Theresa May chaired a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee about the crisis this morning.

She said “urgent work” is needed with government departments and Eurotunnel to prevent people getting into the tunnel.

The Home Secretary also admitted that “a number of people” had made it through the tunnel to Britain.

The Government has agreed an extra £7m of funding for measures to improve security at Calais and the entrance to the Channel Tunnel.

Operation Stack

Kent Police have reintroduced Operation Stack in a bid to clear gridlock on the M20 near Folkestone and this is expected to last into the weekend. Operation Stack forces freight traffic to queue on sections of the motorway when there are cross-Channel disruptions.

A police spokesman said the measure had been enforced because of the large amount of freight traffic heading towards the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel, along with “continued disruption” in Calais.

The reinstatement of Operation Stack has come just days after it was lifted. It has had a significant financial impact on local businesses in Kent and the UK freight industry.

Theresa May stressed that the crisis and Operation Stack is “causing real problems for the people of Kent”. She said the Department of Transport will work with Kent County Council to reduce disruption for local residents.

The escalating crisis has prompted Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking during his visit to Singapore, to promise that the Government “will do everything we can” to improve the situation.

Mr Cameron said: “We are doing everything that we can. The Home Secretary will be chairing a ministerial Cobra meeting this morning to make sure that everything that can be done, working with the French, is being done.

David Cameron has been reluctant to criticise the French authorities who currently allow UK border checks at Calais rather than the Dover. However the Conservative MP for Ashford Damian Green said to Channel 4 News on Tuesday that “there shouldn’t be thousands of people able to scale fences… a lot of that is due to the policing operation.”

The MP, who was a Home Office minister from 2012-2014 added “the French riot police are quite capable of stopping people doing things when they want to, they could be deployed.”