Saturday 20 January 2018

'Thousands' of migrants storm Calais Eurotunnel site causing delays to trains

File photo dated 17/11/2009 of a train leaving the Euro Tunnel at Coquelles in France. Thousands of migrants stormed Eurotunnel's French terminal in Calais last night. Chris Ison/PA Wire
File photo dated 17/11/2009 of a train leaving the Euro Tunnel at Coquelles in France. Thousands of migrants stormed Eurotunnel's French terminal in Calais last night. Chris Ison/PA Wire

Sally Wardle and Joe Nerssessian

Thousands of migrants stormed Eurotunnel's French terminal in Calais last night.

Over the course of the night, some 2,000 attempted to breach the fences.

Lorries parked on the M20 near Charing in Kent as freight transport chiefs have said that Britain's freight industry is losing ?750,000 a day because of the huge problems lorry drivers have faced this summer trying to cross the Channel. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Lorries parked on the M20 near Charing in Kent as freight transport chiefs have said that Britain's freight industry is losing ?750,000 a day because of the huge problems lorry drivers have faced this summer trying to cross the Channel. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

The operator confirmed that the invasion was the cause of delays to this morning's service.

Read more here: Wexford hauliers facing tense refugee crisis at French port 

A spokesman for Eurotunnel said: "There was huge cooperation between the authorities and the Eurotunnel teams."

Another spokesman later said: "This is an issue that is a really for the Government to sort out. We need them to stop the migrant flow from Calais but it appears to be too much for them to handle.

"It was the freight terminal and there was some damage to our fences - which we'll have to repair - as they tried to board shuttles. Fortunately, there wasn't any damage to shuttles. Unfortunately, a number of people were injured."

Read more here: Holiday gridlock for Eurotunnel after 'migrant activity' in Calais 

He added: "It is an almost nightly occurrence - we're trying to run a travel business here."

This morning, Eurotunnel advised anyone taking a day-trip to France via its passenger services to "postpone their journey" due to long delays as a result of "migrant activity" throughout the night.

The advice follows a warning from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to avoid Calais because of industrial action by French farmers. It also warned anyone travelling through the French port to keep vehicle doors locked because of the "large numbers of illegal migrants" and a "high threat of terrorism".

The Calais chaos forced Kent Police to reintroduce Operation Stack in the early hours leading to further disruption to travellers on the county's roads.

Lorries were parked on sections of the M20 to avoid gridlock - with junctions eight to 13 closed to non-freight traffic.

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 came just days after it was lifted following disruption caused by migrants and wildcat strikes by ferry workers in France in protest at job cuts.

Read more here: Irish truck driver held at knifepoint by migrants in France 

Kent Police have confirmed measures will remain in place for the rest of Tuesday, but refused to comment on future plans.

The migrant crisis in Calais has escalated in recent months, with thousands displaced from countries including Eritrea, Syria and Afghanistan setting up camp near the port.

Read more here: Striking ferry workers block Eurotunnel terminal at Calais 

There were delays to the service on Thursday when the body of a suspected migrant was found on the roof of a Eurotunnel train at the Channel terminal in Folkestone.

Eurotunnel said it had spent 150 million euro (£106.1 million) since 2000 on security, an average of 10 million euro (£7 million) a year.

But it has already spent 13 million euro (£9.2 million) on security in the first six months of this year.

Freight transport chiefs have said Britain's freight industry is losing £750,000 a day because of the huge problems lorry drivers have faced this summer trying to cross the channel.

Read more here: Irish truckers in fear of attack from Calais migrants

Press Association

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