Calais 'jungle' in flames as demolition continues

Calais 'jungle' in flames as demolition continues
French authorities are moving thousands of refugees out of the camp which for years has served as the launchpad to reach Britain.
2 min read
26 October, 2016
Thousands of people are being cleared from the camp by French authorities [Getty]
A blaze has torn through the Calais "jungle camp" sending thousands of refugees fleeing while French authorities continue demolition works.

Tents were burning at the squalid camp, where up to 8,000 people have sought refuge, aiming to use it as a launchpad to cross the Channel to Britain.

A Syrian man was taken to hospital with injuries to his ear drums after a gas canister exploded in the flames, which ravaged one of the main thoroughfares in the camp.

"Our tents were burning. Someone set fire to them, though I don't know who," said Siddiq, a 16-year-old boy, who was forced by the flames to sleep under a bridge at the camp's entrance.

"I have seen many fires before but not like this."

A local official downplayed the blazes, telling AFP: "It's a tradition among communities who set fire to their homes before leaving."

Diggers moved in on Tuesday to dismantle and remove the makeshift homes.

Mattresses, blankets, clothes, pots and suitcases left behind by migrants were also carted away.

As part of the camp's clearance, 3,242 adults have been moved to reception centres around France since Monday and 772 unaccompanied minors have been moved to shipping containers converted into temporary shelters in the camp, the French interior ministry said.

The numbers amount to half the camp's estimated population before the operation began, according to official figures.

The authorities have said those who agree to be moved can seek asylum in France. Those who refuse risk deportation.

Britain took in around 200 teenagers this week as an eleventh hour gesture.

Calais' mayor Natacha Bouchart said seeing people queue to leave the camp was "a great relief" after years of almost daily attempts to reach Britain either in backs of lorries or jumping onto trains crossing the Channel.