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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tunnel Walker Caught in France




PARIS -- A man slipped past security cameras, barbed wire and high fences and then walked 50 kilometers through the undersea Channel Tunnel - dodging high-speed trains - from Britain to France, where he was arrested Wednesday.


A stunned Eurotunnel spokeswoman said the company is "very worried'' by the incident, the first time a pedestrian has ever managed to dodge security and walk from Britain to France.


French police said the 36-year-old Russian man, whom they did not identify by name, entered the tunnel sometime over the weekend on the English side of the Channel.


Nobody knew what his motive was. "We will be very interested in knowing why,'' said Dominique Maire, spokeswoman for Eurotunnel in Paris.


He was detected and then arrested Wednesday while still inside the tunnel as he prepared to surface at Coquelles, six kilometers west of Calais, where the trains emerge.


"We are still asking ourselves how this man could have gotten into the tunnel because it is under such great surveillance by police and Eurotunnel security,'' said Maire.


The entrances to the tunnel on both sides of the Channel are closely watched by closed-circuit television cameras. Barbed wire and high fences have been set up to keep trespassers out.


The tunnel was checked for damage after the incident and other intruders, but nothing was found.


Inside the tunnel, the rails are very close together and trains racing at speeds of up to 150 kilometers an hour whip up winds that act like a vacuum cleaner and could scoop up a human being.


French police said it was a miracle the man survived.


Eurotunnel believes the intruder sought safe refuge while trains went by in cross passages, small openings that are placed every 375 meters inside the tunnel.


Police already have returned the man to England, his point of departure, where he now is being interrogated by British immigration officers "to ascertain his immigration status,'' a British Home Office spokeswoman said on customary condition of anonymity.


The Russian Embassy in London said it was aware of the incident but had no comment.


Millions of people take the train each year through the Channel Tunnel, which opened in 1994.