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Europe

Poland urges France to protect drivers as four charged over Calais death

media Migrants speak with a lorry driver as they walk alongside vehicles on the route leading to the Channel Tunnel in Coquelles AFP PHOTO/Philippe Huguen

Poland on Wednesday urged France to guarantee security for its lorry drivers after A Polish man died in a crash caused by roadblock erected by migrants near the northern French port of Calais. Four migrants have been charged with manslaughter in relation to the death.

Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak confirmed that the van driver, who died in the crash Tuesday, was Polish and requested French counterpart Gérard Collomb "take action to guarantee the security of Polish lorry drivers in the Calais region".

The driver, who has been named as Miroslav I, died after slamming into a truck stopped by a log roadblock which migrants had erected across the motorway at Guemps, on Calais's eastern outskirts, police said.

Before the Calais "Jungle" camp was closed last October, migrants desperate to reach Britain as stowaways on trucks frequently set up makeshift roadblocks, usually at night, to slow cross-Channel traffic and they have started to do so again recently..

'Deep concern' in Poland

Blaszczak told Collomb in a letter the incident had caused "deep concern" in Poland. Polish drivers account for a quarter of those plying long-distance European routes.

"It is unacceptable that illegal acts lead to a situation where innocent people die," added Blaszczak, who offered Polish help to "improve security in the Calais region."

Tuesday's death was the first for a driver since the migrant crisis hit France's Channel ports in 2014, although there have been numerous fatalities among migrants seeking to go to Britain by train and truck.

Four charged with manslaughter

Four migrants - two Afghan adults and two Eritrean minors - were charged with manslaughter, impeding traffic and endangering lives and detained on Wednesday night.

They reject the charges.

They were among nine migrants detained after being found in the back of a lorry at the scene.

The five others - all minors, four Eritreans and one Ethiopian - have been placed in confinement.

The Jungle was home to up to 10,000 at its height. Between 400 and 600 migrants are today thought to be living in the Calais area in precarious conditions in the hope of reaching Britain.

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