One person was killed and another seriously injured after a train accidentally hit four migrants who were walking on tracks in Calais, northern France.
The accident took place at around 6:35 pm on Thursday evening on the railway line that connects Dunkirk to Calais.
“Four migrants were hit. One person has died, one is in absolute emergency and has been taken to hospital, and the other two are injured but without a life-threatening prognosis,” Boulogne-sur-Mer public prosecutor Guirec Le Bras told AFP.
He said the two migrants who were slightly injured were from Eritrea and that the area was a regular passageway for migrants who use it to get to camps in Calais.
Seventeen people were on the train but “none were injured”, the prosecutor added.
Just one day before, one migrant died and more than 400 people were rescued after several boats sank in the English Channel with Dunkirk’s prosecutor explaining that there had been more activity this week in part due to mild weather.
Activists have decried the authorities’ actions in the area, with Human Rights Watch saying in a report released last month that migrants in Calais were subjected to degrading treatment by authorities, including evictions and police harassment.
Three French activists in Calais engaged in a hunger strike over the “inhuman and degrading treatment” of migrants. One of them, a priest, has decided to end his strike, but two others will continue.
Authorities say there has been an increase in migrants attempting to cross the English channel, but there are fewer people than in 2015 and 2016 when many lived in a Calais encampment known as the “Jungle” before it was demolished.
The director of France’s office of immigration and integration, Didier Leschi, said this week that the government would create an accommodation centre with 300 places for migrants. He told FranceInfo that buses would pick up migrants to bring them to other more permanent centres daily.
Calais’ mayor Natacha Bouchart said she is against the centre, fearing that it could create a new migrant encampment resembling the “Jungle”.
The train accident comes just one month after three migrants were killed and another was seriously injured after they were hit by a train in southwestern France.
The migrants were thought to be resting on the tracks in the accident that occurred near Saint-Jean-de-Luz close to France’s border with Spain.