Eritrean migrants struck by train in deadly accident near Calais

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A train running in northern France hit a group of migrants walking along the tracks near Calais on Thursday, killing one person and injuring three others, local authorities said on Twitter.

Franck Dhersin, vice president of the Hauts-de-France region, said all victims were from Eritrea, adding one of the three injured people was in a state of “absolute emergency”.

Train operator SNCF said traffic would remain suspended on the Calais-Dunkerque line until Friday morning.

Earlier Thursday, the corpse of one migrant was found in a small boat filled with water that washed up on the beach in Wissant outside Calais, a source close to an investigation said.

Two other people from the same boat were taken to hospital suffering extreme hypothermia.

In separate incidents on Wednesday, one migrant died and another went missing, while more than 400 were rescued after several vessels sank in the Channel en route to Britain, French authorities said.

Attempted crossings between France and Britain have increased this week, likely because favourable weather and excellent visibility prompted people to take their chances before winter sets in.

The past three years have seen a significant rise in attempted Channel crossings by migrants, despite warnings of the dangers in the busy shipping lane between northern France and southern England, which is subject to strong currents and low temperatures.

In 2020, around 9,500 people made or attempted crossings, compared with 2,300 in 2019 and 600 in 2018. But this year alone, 24,655 people have crossed or attempted to make the crossing, with 5,713 of them rescued according to French authorities.

According to a count by Britain’s domestic news agency PA, more than 17,000 migrants have made the crossing to Britain in small boats since the beginning of the year, more than double the figure for the whole of 2020.

Deaths have been relatively rare on the route but these are not the first fatalities.

In mid-August, the sinking of a boat in the Channel caused the death of an Eritrean migrant.

And last year, four members of an Iranian Kurdish family died and their one-year-old child was reported missing, only to wash up several months later on the Norwegian coast, according to British media.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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