Beefed-up security appeared to stem the number of migrants from a refugee camp in Calais traveling illegally to England via the Channel Tunnel on Thursday, as the British and French governments discuss emergency measures to stop them.
Police counted several hundred attempts to enter the premises of the Eurotunnel terminal in the French port city, down significantly from the roughly 2,300 registered the night before.
Authorities arrested about 300 of the roughly 800 to 1,000 migrants estimated to be present at the site.
Eurotunnel did not give precise figures but acknowledged the night had been quieter than previous nights. The company said it had blocked more than 37,000 attempts since January, and it has repeatedly called for more support from the British and French governments in preventing people from entering their sites in Calais.
France deployed more than 100 riot police to Calais on Wednesday to bolster security after nights of hundreds of migrants attempting to rush the railway tunnel leading to England — at times with fatal consequences.
One man in his mid-20s from Sudan was crushed to death by a truck as he tried to reach the tunnel on Wednesday. Another from Egypt was critically injured after being electrocuted in Paris at the Gare du Nord train station after trying to leap from a train roof and board a Eurostar headed to the United Kingdom.
Many of the migrants originate from Syria and Iraq, where people say they are trying to escape the four-year civil war, famine and human rights abuses. A record number of refugees — nearly 60 million worldwide and 4 million from Syria alone — have put pressure on shelters and governments around the world trying to accommodate the influx of people.
Traffic through the tunnel, which had been severely disrupted the previous day, was barely affected. Early Thursday morning, there were no reported delays on either side of the Channel Tunnel on what is expected to be a busy day at peak European vacation season.
The crisis in Calais has intensified in the past few days, with more than 2,000 bids to sneak into the tunnel to get to Britain. The U.K. is seen as an El Dorado for migrants, said Emmanuel Agrius, the deputy mayor of Calais.
Some residents of the camp organized a sit-in in the early hours of Thursday to try to block shuttles exiting the tunnel, Agence France-Presse reported.
The mounting crisis sparked concern from France and Britain, with both governments announcing emergency measures.
The British government has agreed to provide an extra $11 million of funding for measures to improve security at Calais. British Home Secretary Theresa May said Britain was pressing for a bigger fence around the Calais terminal to stop people from entering the French end of the tunnel. She said Britain and France would work together to return people to their home countries and crack down on smugglers. France's interior minister sent 120 additional police officers to the scene temporarily.
Al Jazeera and wire services