Published: 08:00, 04 September 2014 |
Updated: 16:09, 04 September 2014
Around 100 illegal immigrants have tried to force their way onto a ferry to Dover after storming the port of Calais.
The asylum seekers charged onto the ramp of the P&O vessel yesterday afternoon after climbing over fences and overpowering security staff.
But the captain closed the doors and the group was escorted away by French police armed with sub-machine guns.
Crew on a MyFerryLink vessel also used hoses to repel immigrants who ran up the ramp.
And a second attempt by about 150 more migrants, who also gained entrances to the port, was foiled when they were detained by officials.
Shocked witnesses told how the migrants shouted at passengers queuing for ferries as they were led away by officials.
The Dover-bound Spirit of Britain ferry was delayed by about 45 minutes while a search was carried out.
P&O Ferries confirmed there had been a "huge intrusion" at the port at about 3.45pm - after a previous attempt by 30 immigrants the previous evening.
Video: The moment scores of illegal immigrants tried to storm a P&O ferry. Warning - contains some explicit language
Spokesman Chris Laming said: "One of our captains on the Spirit of Britain witnessed about 100 migrants running towards the ferry.
"The police were very quickly on the scene and they rounded up these people.
"They escorted them to the exit of the port with no violence or confrontation at all - it was almost like a publicity stunt, really."
He added: "It's very concerning. We've written to the port authorities expressing our concern and urging them to redouble their efforts to improve security at the port and there was evidence last night that that had been done.
"We are concerned for our staff. Our number one priority is the safe operation of our ships.
"We've issued instructions that we should not involve ourselves in any kind of confrontation.
"The captains will take a very cautious approach to any further incursion of that type - we don't want that kind of confrontation on our ships and we'll do our best to avoid it."
The intruders were among around 1,300 illegal immigrants staying in makeshift camps in Calais and making regular attempts to reach Britain.
Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart has called for Britain to do more to help control the migrants.
Yesterday, it was revealed she threatened to block the port, which would cause huge disruption to cross-Channel sailings.
Were you on the P&O ferry involved or did you see what happened? Phone the newsroom on 01634 227989 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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