At least 1,500 migrants desperate to reach England made new attempts to enter the Eurotunnel terminal overnight in the French port town of Calais, a police source said Wednesday, adding that one person was found dead.
“Our team found a corpse this morning and the firefighters have confirmed the death of this person,” added a spokesman for Eurotunnel.
The migrant, a man of Sudanese origin believed to be aged between 25 and 30, was hit by a truck that was leaving a cross-Channel ferry, the police source said.
The latest fatality brings the number of migrants who died near the Channel Tunnel terminal site to nine since June. It comes a day after some 2,000 migrants were pushed back near the terminal entrance, in the largest single attempt to enter the tunnel linking France to Britain.
Calais, where the French end of the Channel Tunnel is located, has seen an explosion in recent years in the number of migrants, who live mainly in makeshift camps in the port city after fleeing war and poverty from countries including Eritrea, Libya and Syria.
The situation in Calais has been exacerbated by strikes by workers and farmers in the region, causing further disruption at the key port.
British police last week raised their estimate of the number of migrants in Calais to 5,000 from 3,000, with thousands of attempts made each day to board lorries and trains headed to the UK.
Authorities stopped more than 8,000 attempts at crossing the Channel over a six-week period in June and July, according to the British interior ministry.
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday expressed concern over the worsening crisis.
“This is very concerning,” he told reporters during a visit in Singapore, adding that “we are working very closely” with French authorities to address the situation.
Increasing Paris-London tension
The Calais encampments have soured relations between Britain and France, which blame each other for failing to cope with the crisis.
The mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, has threatened to shut down the port if Britain does not do more to tackle the crisis. A report by the French interior ministry released earlier this month criticised a lack of cooperation between the UK and France on sharing information and resources.
Another Eurotunnel spokesman said later on Tuesday: “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.”
Last week Eurotunnel said it would demand nearly €10 million from the French and British governments to help cover the extra security costs involved in combatting the flow of migrants.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and British Home Secretary Theresa May held a UK-France summit Tuesday in London to discuss the ongoing crisis.
“The French and UK governments are working in close collaboration on this issue which affects us both,” said May following the talks with Cazeneuve.
The UK minister said that intelligence and law enforcement specialists will be posted to combat the “terrible” gangs of people smugglers “making a profit out of human misery”.
France and Britain also vowed to work together to return migrants, mainly to West Africa, “to ensure that people see that making this journey does not lead to them coming to Europe and being able to settle”, May added.
The Conservative government minister also announced an extra £7 million ((€10.8 million) for security at Coquelles, the French suburb which is home to the Eurotunnel terminal, which is in addition to the £15 million already pledged.