Syrian refugee dies after being electrocuted on UK-bound Channel Tunnel train

The man had reportedly tried to board the train with several other refugees as it left Calais

Lizzie Dearden
Friday 18 September 2015 11:56
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The man was reportedly found unconscious on the roof of a freight train after it departed for England
The man was reportedly found unconscious on the roof of a freight train after it departed for England

A refugee has been electrocuted while trying to climb on to a Eurotunnel freight train to England.

The man, believed to be Syrian and in his 20s, died shortly before midnight on Thursday.

He had been found on train's roof after possibly being shocked by overhead power lines near the French entrance to the Channel Tunnel , the BBC reported.

Refugees have been climbing fences to attempt to board Eurotunnel trains in Calais, France

Train operator Eurotunnel said the shuttle was stopped shortly after leaving Calais at around 10.20pm last night, following reports that people were on the tracks.

During a search of the train, the Syrian man who later died was found unconscious with another injured person.

An unconfirmed number of other refugees were also discovered hiding on board.

A spokesperson for Eurotunnel said: “The emergency services were called and immediately took them into their care. The authorities have subsequently confirmed the death of one of those taken into their charge.

"This sad incident shows once again that any attempt to travel illegally through the Channel Tunnel is fraught with danger."

French newspaper La Voix du Nord reported that he was the eleventh migrant or refugee to die in France since the start of this year.

Several accidents have involved the Channel Tunnel, where people have been electrocuted, crushed by a freight lorry and fatally injured in falls.

Placard reading 'Beware : danger of death' is pictured in the Eurotunnel site

At least three refugees have also died after being hit by vehicles on France’s motorways so far this year.

Some were crossing the country to reach Calais, after risking their lives to reach Europe in journeys over the Mediterranean or on Western Balkans route.

An estimated 5,000 refugees and migrants displaced from countries including Syria, Libya and Eritrea are believed to be camped in and around the French port.

A surge in people attempting to cross the Channel earlier this year prompted a string of measures to increase security at the terminal, including extra fencing and the deployment of more border force search and dog teams.

Security agents patrol a Eurotunnel train yard in Calais

Kent County Council said it has no more foster beds available to accommodate unaccompanied children arriving in the county.

Today, the authority disclosed that 732 child asylum seekers are in its care - up from 720 at the start of this month and an increase on a figure of nearly 630 at the beginning of August.

It has reopened a former reception centre to ease the pressure amid what officials have called "an unprecedented increase" in young arrivals.

At its peak, which coincided with French ferry strikes, the number of attempts to board lorries or trains was around 2,000 a night but that figure has fallen to around 150.

Thursday's death came as thousands of refugees seeking safety in the EU attempted to divert through Croatia after Hungary closed its border with Serbia in an effort to keep asylum seekers out.

The EU has called an emergency summit for next week in a fresh bid to urgently formulate a new strategy to tackle the crisis.

This newspaper has started a campaign for the UK to welcome a fair share of refugees.

Click here to sign The Independent's petition

Additional reporting by PA

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