Carnage in Calais: Horrific crash as jungle migrant gangs target tourists in cars in terrifying new AMBUSH technique that left our journalists covered in blood after narrowly escaping death
- Ruthless gangs deliberately causing crashes on the roads to the French port by hurling large objects at cars
- Home Secretary Amber Rudd has spoken out after a team of journalists narrowly escaped death last week
- Reporter Ben Ellery and photographers Steve Burton and John McLellan were all injured
- They had been investigating a shocking explosion of violence at the squalid migrant camp
Migrants from the Calais Jungle camp are using a deadly new tactic in their attempts to get to Britain.
Ruthless gangs are deliberately causing crashes on the roads to the French port by hurling large objects at cars – then sneaking on to lorries caught up in the resulting tailbacks.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has spoken out after a team of Mail on Sunday journalists narrowly escaped death last week when three migrants threw a log at their car, forcing it into the path of a 38-ton juggernaut.
After being briefed about the incident, Ms Rudd issued a statement describing the development as ‘extremely concerning’.
She added: ‘It’s vital that people feel safe when using the Channel ports. This shows just how it is in all our interests to combat attempts to enter the UK illegally.’
Reporter Ben Ellery, 32, and photographers Steve Burton and John McLellan were all injured when their British-registered Audi swerved to avoid the missile.
They then hit the lorry, sending their vehicle spinning out of control. The juggernaut dragged the car sideways for about 50 yards.
The three men were later rushed to hospital for treatment. Ellery’s head was gashed to the bone after it struck the steering wheel, and he required eight stitches.
McLellan, 60, was left with deep cuts to his face, and Burton, 57, suffered a gash on his head and severe bruising to his back.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has spoken out after a team of Mail on Sunday journalists narrowly escaped death last week. Pictured, a map of the incident
Desperate: We filmed migrants who had placed a branch on to the carriageway to force UK-bound traffic to stop. A third member of the gang is out of shot
Brazen: One man tried to climb into the gap between the cab and the trailer of the stopped lorry in Calais
French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve has pledged to close jungle camp – where numbers have swelled by 3,000 to more than 9,000.
They had been investigating a shocking explosion of violence at the squalid migrant camp and the growing number of attacks on trucks heading for Britain.
This sinister escalation risks the lives of thousands of British families using ferries and the Channel Tunnel as they return from their summer holidays. And it comes ahead of planned ‘go slow’ protest by French truckers tomorrow that is likely to cause chaos for returning tourists.
French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve has pledged to close the camp – where numbers have swelled by 3,000 to more than 9,000 – by the end of the year, but local residents want him to speed up the process. An extra 200 police officers have been dispatched to the area and uniformed French troops have also started patrolling.
A Calais police source told The Mail on Sunday there had been a number of reported incidents ‘of projectiles being thrown directly at cars, so as to force them to stop’.
Dazed and bloodied: Ben Ellery staggers to the side of the road after the crash
He said the menacing new tactic – along with blockades on the road –’was of huge concern, and was likely to result in very serious accidents’.
French officials and hospital staff confirmed that migrants are deliberately causing accidents to create traffic tailbacks on the N216 motorway into the ferry port, and the A16 to the Channel Tunnel. They are also putting up barricades.
Quentin Patte, an emergency doctor at Calais Hospital, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Targeting motorists in order to cause accidents is a new tactic. A colleague treated someone recently who was injured when a migrant threw something at their vehicle near the port.’
Another doctor at the hospital revealed asylum-seekers come into the hospital daily after being wounded in vicious knife fights in the camp.
He said: ‘They come in every day with stab wounds. There is particularly a rivalry between the Afghans and the Sudanese. They are given priority because their wounds are so serious.’
A paramedic told our reporters: ‘This is happening all the time now. It’s a war out there.’
Lorry drivers are experiencing soaring violence, threats and intimidation as they pass through the French port, according to locals.
Every night, squads of French riot police are involved in running battles with gangs. The police fire tear gas as they chase them from the edge of the main roads.
Police say they are dealing with around 30 blockades each night.
A team of highway workers toils through the night constantly clearing debris from the motorways around the port and tunnel.
Jean-Marc Puissesseau, president of the port of Calais, said: ‘Migrants are throwing tree trunks, branches and shopping carts at cars on the motorway. It is very dangerous.’
David Sagnard, president of the local branch of France’s national federation of lorry drivers, said: ‘The violence of the migrants has not gone up by a notch, but by ten.
‘Why do we have to risk our lives on the motorway just doing our job, or simply because we’re tourists? It is not acceptable.’
The Audi belonging to Mail on Sunday Reporter Ben Ellery was written off in the collision with a lorry in Calais
Frederic Houtecoeur, a lorry driver from Belgium, said: ‘Every night we are coming up against migrants and our lives are put at risk. It is extremely dangerous’
Jean-Marc Puissesseau, president of the port of Calais, said: ‘Migrants are throwing tree trunks, branches and shopping carts at cars on the motorway. It is very dangerous’.
A two-mile-long, £2.5 million fence – paid for by British taxpayers – was erected in Calais last year to stop migrants jumping into the back of lorries while they were queuing to cross the Channel. Now the migrants, mainly young men from Sudan, Ethiopia and Afghanistan, are targeting vehicles on the motorway two miles away, at the point where the fence ends.
Our reporting team was investigating the worrying phenomenon when they came under attack in the early hours of Friday on the N216.
Half an hour earlier they saw police clearing metal crowd-control barriers which had been strewn across the A16.
The night before, the team filmed three migrants as they brazenly tried to board a lorry that had stopped on the motorway because tree branches had been dragged across the carriageway.
One migrant attempted to climb into the gap between the cab and the trailer of the lorry as two of his friends looked on, hoping he could smuggle himself into the UK.
The shocked driver sounded his horn before deciding to drive over the branches to get away from the men, who fled into the woods when police arrived.
Our reporting team was investigating the worrying phenomenon when they came under attack in the early hours of Friday on the N216. Pictured, Ben Ellery (left) and photographer John McLellan
David Sagnard, president of the local branch of France’s national federation of lorry drivers, said: ‘The violence of the migrants has not gone up by a notch, but by ten’
Barrier: Two migrants at the two-mile long fence that guards the port of Calais in the north of France
Regional highways boss Xavier Delebarre said: ‘The gangs have tools including chainsaws. There is a strategy to their concerted, simultaneous assaults.’
He said it amounted to a sinister ‘game’ and described how workers have come across a number of dead bodies of migrants who had been hit by lorries after they had run into the road.
Frederic Houtecoeur, a lorry driver from Belgium, said: ‘Every night we are coming up against migrants and our lives are put at risk. It is extremely dangerous.’
Currently a record 1,900 French police are deployed in Calais. But Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, last night called for British police to be sent to France to help deal with the violence.
He said: ‘This is becoming a war zone with wanton violence being perpetrated against drivers. It is totally unacceptable that the situation has reached crisis point.’
Pictures by Steve Burton and John McLellan
‘IT’S CHAOS OUT THERE’ SAY BRITS CAUGHT UP THE CALAIS JUNGLE MAYHEM
Many other Britons have been terrorised by migrant gangs, including top equestrian Lucy Phillips, whose horsebox was attacked last month.
Migrants built a 3ft barrier with felled trees to block Lucy’s route to the Calais ferry terminal then smashed a window of the horsebox, showering her mother Liz, 63, with broken glass and scaring her gelding Pitucelli.
Lucy, 26, from Solihull, West Midlands, said: ‘The attack seemed to go on for a lifetime before police arrived.’‘The attack seemed to go on for a lifetime before police arrived.’
Delivery driver Glen Shadbolt, 39, from Knebworth, Hertfordshire, charged his 3.5-ton minivan through a similar barrier. He said: ‘It’s absolute chaos out there.’
And last month, 40 migrants surrounded Londoner Irshaad Dar’s car and smashed the windows with metal bars. He added: ‘I was shaking with fear.’
MoS man chillingly tells how he narrowly avoided death when a tree trunk was hurled at his car by migrant gangs in Calais
By Ben Ellery in Calais for the Mail on Sunday
Injured: Photographer Steve, on a stretcher, and colleague John in the ambulance last week.
Like millions of Britons, I have driven along the featureless road leading to the Calais ferry port so many times over the years it has become a familiar final glimpse of France before heading home.
For a few sickening moments early on Friday, I feared it might be the last thing I ever saw.
But the most chilling aspect of the crash in which my car was written off and my two passengers and I narrowly escaped death, was that it was not an accident at all – but the result of a deliberate, cold-blooded act.
The tree trunk hurled at our car which caused the near-fatal swerve could have been thrown at any family travelling back to the UK. And the next victims may not be so lucky.
I was with photographers John McLellan and Steve Burton after investigating the increasing menace that migrant gangs pose for motorists around Calais. We were about to find out only too clearly.
We were on the autoroute to the ferry port, travelling at about 50mph, when three migrants suddenly appeared on the right side of the road. I saw one of them was carrying a thick log. With both hands he hurled it at the windscreen and I instinctively jerked the steering wheel to the left. I felt a sickening jolt as the car was hit by an articulated lorry and we spun out of control. Then we were pushed sideways at speed along the road by the 38-ton truck.
I expected to hit another vehicle at any moment. I stabbed at the brake pedal furiously but we were at the mercy of the larger vehicle.
My face cracked against the steering wheel and John let out a moan as his face smashed into his camera. After about 50 yards, we came to a halt.
I asked Steve and John if they were OK, but neither could speak. One let out a groan. I could feel blood gushing out of my own face.
I was not sure whether it was safer to stay in the car and risk getting hit by an oncoming vehicle, or to walk on to the carriageway.
I also didn’t know whether the migrants might want to attack us again.
I stumbled from the car on to a carpet of smashed glass. The lorry was blocking John’s door and he scrambled out of mine.
Paramedics turned up within minutes and I saw Steve (pictured) being loaded on to a stretcher in a neck brace, writes Ben Ellery.
My adrenaline was surging and I staggered to the side of the road. After about 30 seconds the police arrived. I motioned for them to get Steve out of the car.
Paramedics turned up within minutes and I saw Steve being loaded on to a stretcher in a neck brace. The lorry driver, a Hungarian called Ferenc, ran up to John and gave him a hug.
He started apologising but John told him it wasn’t his fault. Ferenc had seen the migrants too and there was nothing he could do.
I got into the ambulance and a paramedic told me I would have to have stitches as bone was visible under a deep gash.
One medic said he thought British volunteers were helping the migrants with equipment such as chainsaws to create blockades. At the hospital I was told of a tourist treated for injuries after a migrant threw something at their car.
As one doctor put eight stitches in my face, another came in and said two migrants had just been admitted with knife wounds inflicted during a fight. One was critical having been stabbed in the neck, and the other’s lungs had been punctured. My CT scan was delayed as they were given priority. The doctor said: ‘This happens every day.’
The next day I went to the Commissariat de Police in Calais to find out what happened to my car and was told by an officer that these sort of attacks were happening ‘tous les jours.’
At the recovery compound I shuddered at the sight of my caved-in car and the thought of how lucky we were to survive.
Would a young family have come out alive from the same attack? I don’t think they would.
FRANCE MUST TACKLE THIS ANARCHY BEFORE THE SITUATION BECOMES FATAL
Comment by Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover
Hurling logs at cars to deliberately cause a crash marks a horrific escalation of the danger facing drivers in Calais.
The evidence obtained by The Mail on Sunday makes me fear that unless action is taken – and now – by the French authorities, then it is only a matter of time before someone is killed.
This is why I will be going into the Home Office this week to urge the Government to put more pressure on the French to tackle the anarchy.
Drivers already have to face masked men lurking by the roadside, their faces lit by flames as they grip revving chainsaws and hurl burning trees across the carriageway. As lorries are stopped in their tracks by the flames, men emerge from the bushes to clamber on to the backs of the vehicles.
Drivers are nightly running the gauntlet of ruthless people-traffickers armed with anything from machetes to petrol bombs.
The situation is so bad that the Road Haulage Association now advises its drivers not to stop their vehicles if they are within 125 miles of the port. Many companies draw the exclusion zone even wider, to 150 miles – up to the outskirts of Paris, and beyond Brussels. It is just too dangerous for drivers to stop within this zone.
Hurling logs at cars to deliberately cause a crash marks a horrific escalation of the danger facing drivers in Calais, writes MP Charlie Elphicke.
Take the case of one driver who has contacted me in recent days. When Steve Valentine pulled up at a petrol station on the road to Calais he discovered two African migrants trying to break into his lorry. When he confronted them a fight broke out, during which his front teeth were knocked out.
After a prolonged tussle, he managed to pin them both up to the back of the vehicle and called over to the French police who were standing just 80 yards away. They ignored him, and he was forced to let the migrants go.
For years the French and British governments have targeted only the symptoms of this Calais crisis. They have built fences to keep migrants away from the docks – but the attacks on trucks now just occur further down the road. They have built containers for migrants to stay in – yet thousands more have arrived.
The Jungle camp, now home to 9,000 desperate people, is at bursting point.
During my meeting at the Home Office I will argue that the first step must be to dismantle The Jungle and build a new repatriation centre far from the port. All migrants would be immediately registered, and those with genuine asylum cases need to be processed.
The rest must be sent home – and swiftly.
We must also do more to secure the Channel with a new Dover Patrol to catch the people-traffickers as they attempt to make the crossing.
The Government should recall those Royal Navy units which are currently patrolling the Mediterranean: nations in that region already have more border control vessels than we do.
Some French politicians have talked about tearing up the Le Touquet treaty, which establishes British customs checks at Calais. But the French know just as well as we do that this would be a disaster for both nations. It would simply force the ferries and Tunnel to become border guards – at the price of higher ticket prices and longer queues.
It is critical to smash the people-traffickers. These modern-day slavers must be caught and jailed – put behind bars for at least 20 years and have all of their assets seized.
If the situation deteriorates any further, I believe the French army will have to be called in.
The Mail on Sunday team thankfully escaped with their lives. The next drivers to be targeted might not be so lucky.