Migrant death in Channel Tunnel highlights UK security crisis
Updated: 2015-07-29 17:55
Migrants gather on the side of the road as lorries queue to embark on shuttles at the Eurotunnel terminal early in the morning in Calais, northern France, July 29, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
LONDON/PARIS - A migrant died trying to cross to Britain from France early on Wednesday, French police said, adding to a number of recent deaths in the Channel Tunnel as British ministers and security chiefs were to meet over the crisis in Calais.
Freight and passenger traffic through the rail tunnel has been severely disrupted in recent weeks as large numbers of migrants camped out in the Calais area have tried to board lorries and trains travelling from France to Britain.
The situation has turned into a blame game with Eurotunnel asking French and British governments to reimburse it for close to 10 million euros ($11 million) it spent to beef up security to cope with the migrant crisis at Calais.
The Sudanese man who died on Wednesday was probably hit by a lorry exiting one of the shuttles that transport vehicles through the tunnel, French police said. French media said he was the ninth migrant to die in the tunnel since early June.
There were about 1,500 attempts by migrants to access the tunnel on Tuesday night, a Eurotunnel spokesman said, after 2,000 attempts the previous night.
In a July 23 letter sent by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to Eurotunnel boss Jacques Gounon and seen by Reuters, Cazeneuve accused Eurotunnel of not doing enough to ensure Tunnel security "given the worsening situation".
Eurotunnel had notably cut to 103 from 325 in 2002 the number of security agents on the site, he said.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Eurotunnel gave a different set of numbers, saying it had in fact doubled its security staff to close to 200 people since the start of the migrant crisis in the early 2000s and had spent a total of over 160 million euros on security during that time.