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France vows order in Calais after refugees storm ferry

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Sunday vowed to maintain "order" in northern Calais, a day after dozens of migrants boarded a ferry triggering the temporary closure of the key port.

France vows order in Calais after refugees storm ferry
Refugees and supporters protest in Calais on Saturday, when several stormed a ferry. Photos: AFP

“The government is completely determined to ensure public order is maintained in Calais,” Cazeneuve said.

A day earlier, some 30 to 40 migrants briefly boarded the moored “Spirit of Britain” ferry in the French port in an attempt to reach Britain, before police removed them from the ship.

The boarding – a rare occurrence in the heavily-guarded port – came after around 2,000 people protested nearby over living conditions in the notoriously squalid camp known as “the Jungle”.

Four migrants and two protesters will face a court on Monday over the incident.

Though it was brief, the boarding of the ferry and the temporary closure of the port heightened tensions in Calais, with hundreds of protesters taking to the streets in the city Sunday to demand tougher government controls.

“What happened yesterday (Saturday) is a failure of the government,” said Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart, who led the Sunday protest.

The conservative official meanwhile demanded that President Francois Hollande “come to Calais to solve the problems related to the camp”, which is located at the outskirts of the city.

For two hours people marched through the city, with locals peering out of their windows and applauding the demonstrators, an AFP journalist said.

“My port is nice, my city is beautiful – support our city, our port, our businesses and our jobs,” read the banner held up by the leaders of the march.

While migrants have for years sought to cross over to Britain from Calais, the numbers have shot up since the refugee crisis went into overdrive last year.

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POLICE

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

A Frenchwoman and a Spaniard were killed and nine other mountaineers were injured on Friday in an ice fall in southwest Switzerland, police said following a rescue attempt involving several helicopters.

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

Police received calls at 6.20 am reporting that mountaineers had been caught up in falling seracs — columns of glacial ice formed by crevasses — on the Grand Combin, a glacial massif near the Italian border in the Wallis region.

Seven helicopters with mountain rescue experts flew to the scene, finding 17 mountaineers split among several groups.

“Two people died at the scene of the accident,” Wallis police said in a statement. They were a 40-year-old Frenchwoman and a 65-year-old man from Spain.

Nine mountaineers were airlifted to hospitals in nearby Sion and in Lausanne. Two of them are seriously injured, police said.

Other mountaineers were evacuated by helicopter.

The regional public prosecutor has opened an investigation “to determine the circumstances of this event”, the police said.

The serac fall happened at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Plateau de Dejeuner section along the Voie du Gardien ascent route.

The Grand Combin massif has three summits above 4,000 metres, the highest of which is the Combin de Grafeneire at 4,314 metres.

The police issued a note of caution about setting off on such high-altitude expeditions.

“When the zero-degree-Celsius isotherm is around 4,000 metres above sea level, it is better to be extra careful or not attempt the route if in doubt,” Wallis police said.

“The golden rule is to find out beforehand from the mountain guides about the chosen route and its current feasibility.”

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