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Hundreds of Migrants Try Again to Storm Eurotunnel

  • VOA News

Migrants wait next to the Eurotunnel area as they attempt to access the Channel Tunnel, in Calais, northern France, Wednesday, July 29, 2015.

Migrants wait next to the Eurotunnel area as they attempt to access the Channel Tunnel, in Calais, northern France, Wednesday, July 29, 2015.

A few hundred migrants have tried once again to enter the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais, France, in week of chaotic attempts to get from continental Europe to Britain.

The number of people attempting to enter the tunnel was less than earlier in the week. Monday night saw 2,000 people trying to rush the railway tunnel, and on Tuesday night more than 1,500 made the attempt.

At least one migrant died early Wednesday after being hit by a truck. That brings to nine the number of people who have died trying to cross from Calais, a port city in northern France, into England since early June.

French authorities deployed more than 100 riot police late Wednesday to bolster security personnel. Hundreds of migrants have been trying night after night to rush the railway tunnel leading to England.

Eurotunnel, the company that operates the tunnel between France and England, says it has blocked more than 37,000 migrants trying to cross illegally from continental Europe to Britain since the beginning of the year.

Eurotunnel announced the total Wednesday, saying France and Britain need to do more to help Eurotunnel cope with the rising numbers of migrants flooding into the area.

As many as 10,000 migrants from Africa, the Middle East and beyond are living in squalid encampments in and near Calais, a city of 70,000. Observers say their push to enter the 50-kilometer undersea tunnel intensified in recent weeks after authorities stepped up port security to block migrants from stowing away on Britain-bound vessels.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is currently in Singapore, said Britain is doing everything it can, cooperating with France, to prevent disturbances at the Eurotunnel site. But the problem has soured relations between the two nations, each blaming the other for failing to cope with the crisis. The mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, has complained about the cost of added security and demanded a meeting on the matter with British officials.

The biggest confrontation of the week, on Monday, caused major delays in Eurotunnel service for much of Tuesday.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, speaking Tuesday, told the French news agency that police made some arrests, but he did not offer details. His counterpart, British Home Secretary Theresa May, said her government will put up an additional $10.8 million to help France secure the Eurotunnel site with new fencing.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has rebuffed attempts by European leaders to force Britain to take quotas of refugees who have crossed the Mediterranean in search of better lives.

Pressed at an EU summit by Germany, Italy and other nations to take more refugees flooding the continent, Cameron invoked an EU procedure to block those demands. Other European leaders eventually agreed to resettle 60,000 refugees on a voluntary basis.

Britain's Guardian newspaper says as many as 150 migrants are arriving daily in Calais, triggering high-level warnings that as many as 10,000 migrants could try to enter Britain by the end of August.

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