France urged to do more to protect truck drivers after Calais crash death

France has been urged to do more to protect lorry drivers passing through Calais after a Polish truck driver was killed in a crash caused by a makeshift roadblock of tree trunks set up by migrants on a motorway outside the port town.

France urged to do more to protect truck drivers after Calais crash death
Photo: AFP

Poland on Wednesday urged France to guarantee security for its lorry drivers after one died in a crash caused by roadblock erected by migrants near the northern port of Calais, a jumping off point to reach Britain.

Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak confirmed that the driver, who crashed early Tuesday, was a Pole and requested French counterpart Gerard Collomb “take actions to guarantee the security of Polish lorry drivers in the Calais region.”

The driver died after slamming into a truck stopped by a log roadblock which migrants had erected across the motorway at Guemps, on Calais's eastern outskirts, police said.

Before Calais's infamous “Jungle” camp was closed last October, migrants desperate to reach Britain as stowaways on trucks frequently set up makeshift roadblocks, usually at night, to slow cross-Channel traffic.

Blaszczak told Collomb in a letter the incident had caused “deep concern” in Poland. Polish drivers account for a quarter of those plying long-distance European routes.

“It is unacceptable that illegal acts lead to a situation where innocent people die,” added Blaszczak, who offered Polish help to “improve security in the Calais region.”

Tuesday's death was the first for a driver since the migrant crisis at France's Channel ports began in 2014, although there have been numerous fatalities among migrants seeking to hitch a ride to Britain by train and truck.

A police source said nine migrants were detained: six Eritreans and an Ethiopian, all minors, and two Afghan men found in one of the trucks.

They could face charges of manslaughter, impeding traffic and endangering the lives of others. Local prosecutor Patrick Leleu told AFP said those detained denied erecting the roadblock.

Five of the minors are aged under 16, meaning they cannot be locked up, he added.

The squalid “Jungle” settlement was home to up to 10,000 at its height. Between 400 and 600 migrants are today thought to be living in the Calais area in precarious conditions in the hope of reaching Britain.


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.”