03 November 2009

Migrant found dead in the back of a lorry as it prepares to enter Channel Tunnel

ByPeter Allen for Daily Mail

CALAIS, 1st November 2009 - The corpse of an illegal migrant who was desperate to get to Britain was today found in the back of a lorry preparing to enter the Channel Tunnel. French Immigration Minister Eric Besson said the grim discovery highlighted the 'insane risks' which foreigners are taking to get to the UK so that they can claim asylum or disappear into the black economy. Mr Besson said he was certain that the unnamed man had paid a people smuggler hundreds of pounds for a quick passage to his 'Eldorado'. Instead the migrant got an airless, cramped compartment in an HGV which ultimately cost him his life.

A statement issued within two hours of the man's death read that Mr Besson was 'extremely moved by the terrible incident'. A spokesman for the immigration ministry added: 'This man hoped to get to his English Eldorado but ended up losing his life. Such people are first paying people smugglers and then paying the ultimate price after running insane risks.'

Customs officers stopped the Slovakian HGV travelling from Belgium to Britain soon after 8am to make a routine check for drugs or other smuggled goods. 'Instead, at 8.09 am, they found the dead body of an illegal migrant,' said the Immigration Ministry spokesman.

'Officers trained in first aid tried to revive the young man but could do nothing. He was hidden in a compartment of a lorry officially carrying planks of wood.' It is believed that a lack of oxygen in the cramped compartment caused the death. The driver of the lorry, who is Bosnian, was immediately arrested and is being investigated for people smuggling. The smugglers prey on numerous illegal camps around the Calais region, charging up to £1000 a head for a passage to England.

Mr Besson has pledged to shut all of the shanty towns down, so as to make the northern port town 'watertight' to migrants, but is currently losing the battle.

It is less than a decade since 58 Chinese illegal migrants suffocated in the back of a lorry which had travelled from Calais to Dover.

In 2000 the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw, described the tragedy as a 'stark warning' to other would-be stowaways, but his words clearly did not have the desired effect.

Secret compartments full of migrants are frequently found in lorries arriving from France, while other migrants often risk their lives in other unsuitable forms of transport.

Last month a temperature-controlled supermarket HGV travelled 200 miles in the wrong direction from Calais when 14 migrants on board began screaming for help.

'They were going down with hypothermia after breaking into the lorry at a motorway service station and then resealing the rear entrance to avoid detection,' said a French police officer.

A month earlier 12 Afghans and Kosovans were found huddled up inside the back of an empty chemical tanker which was about to be filled with a 90 per cent concentrated industrial acid.

A judicial enquiry has been opened into the death.

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