Eurotunnel services ‘partially resume’ after migrants storm Channel Tunnel

Eurotunnel services have partially resumed following a “massive invasion” of more than 100 migrants in the French terminal.

Saturday, 3rd October 2015, 2:27 pm
File photo dated 17/11/09 of a train leaving the Eurotunnel at Coquelles in France, as Channel Tunnel travellers are experiencing a second day of disruption following Monday's overhead power line problem. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday July 8, 2014. Four of the high-speed Eurostar train services had to be cancelled today and there were delays to the Folkestone to Calais shuttle services. Eurostar said passengers who had a booking on a cancelled train could exchange their ticket, free of charge, for another available service within the next four months. See PA story RAIL Delays. Photo credit should read: Chris Ison/PA Wire

A “large and co-ordinated” group stormed the tracks at Calais at around 12.30am local time (11.30pm BST), causing the suspension of services overnight, Eurotunnel said.

Several Channel Tunnel staff and two police officers were injured in the incident, the rail company added. Police in France are believed to have arrested up to 100 people.

A spokesman for Eurotunnel said services were beginning to resume as final security checks were made.

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“We are just finishing a security sweep and will build up the services through the morning,” the spokesman said. “Shuttle traffic will resume but passengers may still face delays.”

Earlier suspension of services had been caused by a “co-ordinated group of migrants,” possibly attempting to get media attention, said the rail company.

The spokesman said: “It’s clearly an organised attack when it comes in such a large number, there are over 100 in this one group. In reality this large a group had no chance of reaching the UK, so we see it as a way of getting media attention.”

“They arrived together and in a well-organised manner broke through the fences, and all clearly knew where they were going.”

British authorities worked with French police to clear the tracks, said Eurotunnel.

Eurotunnel has implemented extra security to try to prevent migrants getting onto the tracks.

“Quite probably because the security at the tunnel is strengthening every day, with the new fences being put up, new security installations and additional staff, it’s becoming much harder for migrants to get through in small numbers,” the spokesman said.

“This looks like quite a carefully co-ordinated and organised attack, possibly to raise the profile of their situation or as a last-ditch attempt before the new fences are up.”

Several Channel Tunnel staff and two police officers were injured in the “unseen” attack, Eurotunnel claims. A spokesman said workers were hurled to the ground and had stones thrown at them.

Police have arrested around 100 migrants in connection with the incident, Eurotunnel claims. “They ran through the terminal, knocking some staff to the ground and throwing stones at them,” he added. “There are some minor injuries to staff and also two police officers. They were treated at the scene by paramedics.”

“The large migrant group is now out of the way,” he added. “The police have removed them and taken them into custody.

“This is unseen before and a very determined and clearly organised attack with no fear of security forces or police.”

It is believed around 200 people tried to storm the tunnel but 80 were held back by security staff.

The area where the break-in occurred is currently having high security fencing installed, Eurotunnel said. “Police officers were sent into the tunnel to prevent the group crossing to the UK,” the spokesman continued.

Thirteen migrants have died trying to reach Britain since the start of the crisis in June.

An Eritrean man in his 20s, was killed on Wednesday and is believed to have been hit by a freight train near the tunnel entrance at around 1am.

Early on Tuesday morning a 20-year-old Iraqi man was crushed to death after apparently sneaking on board a lorry to reach the UK. The HGV driver discovered the body in the back of his vehicle near Calais port as he inspected his load after he was forced to brake suddenly.

An estimated 5,000 migrants displaced from countries including Syria, Libya and Eritrea are believed to be camped in and around Calais. At its peak, the number of attempts to board lorries or trains was around 2,000 a night - but that has since fallen.

The crisis in Calais is part of a wider migrant surge in to Europe from countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

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