Jan 23 2016
FRANCE: Port of Calais on lockdown as Muslims try to storm ship, forcing staff to blast them with water cannons
Around 500 mostly male Muslim migrants stormed the site and around 50 made it on to the Spirit of Britain ferry, where they remained for several hours until they were removed by police, with the port now reopened. It came after a protest organized by French leftists to support migrants living in squalid conditions in the northern city of Calais drew around 2,000 people.
UK Daily Mail The protest on Saturday came as British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited the region, which is temporary home to about 4,000 migrants camped out in hopes of finding a better life in Britain, across the Channel.
French officials said a group of 500 people forced their way through police lines and headed to the port, and 150 people were able to get into the fenced-off area. The Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart closed the port and said around 50 migrants made their way on to the P&O-operated vessel.
Police are at the scene and water canons were used on board the ship to try to get the group to leave. Officers removed all of the migrants shortly before 9pm and the port was reopened. P&O said the ship had just crossed from Dover, on the English side of the Channel, and ‘a few trucks’ were still onboard but there were no passengers when the boarding occurred.
‘The proximity of the camp and the unprecedented number of migrants make it impossible to secure the (port) infrastructure, however much the state invests,’ port director Jean-Marc Puissesseau said. Long lines of cars and lorries are now building up outside the port and the incident has led to fears of travel chaos ahead of planned closures to the Eurotunnel from 9pm tonight.
The tunnel is shutting so an overnight safety exercise can take place and all services will be suspended, with the last UK departure at 9.20pm and the first departure leaving the UK at be 6.20am tomorrow and from France at 7.20am.
Meanwhile, a statement tweeted by P&O said: ‘The Port of Calais is resolving a security incident. As a result our vessels are subject to delay of between 90 and 120 minutes.’
The travel giant then tweeted at around 8pm that the situation was still ongoing but vessels were being allowed to dock at the port again and loading would commence shortly. In a video filmed by a bystander, crowds can be heard cheering as migrants try to force their way through the fence.
According to Reuters, port staff said some of the migrants have left the Spirit of Britain voluntarily and the rest will be removed by police if necessary.