The port of Calais remained closed to the public on Saturday as 500 migrants stormed the port, attempting to enter Britain.
The closure follows a march by 2000 French protestors who protested against migrants living in poor conditions in the northern city of Calais.
The protest on Saturday came as British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited the region, which is temporary home to about 4,000 migrants camped out in hopes of finding a better life in Britain, across the Channel.
French officials said a group of 500 people forced their way through police lines and headed to the port, and 150 people were able to get into the fenced-off area.
The Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart closed the port and said around 50 migrants made their way on to the P&O-operated vessel. Police are at the scene and water canons have been used on board the ship to try to get the group to leave.
Migrants were said to be blocking the gangway, preventing police from getting onboard the boat.
P&O said the ship had just crossed from Dover, on the English side of the Channel, and ‘a few trucks’ were still onboard but there were no passengers when the boarding occurred.
‘The proximity of the camp and the unprecedented number of migrants make it impossible to secure the (port) infrastructure, however much the state invests,’ port director Jean-Marc Puissesseau said.
Long lines of cars and lorries are now building up outside the port and the incident has led to fears of travel chaos ahead of planned closures to the Eurotunnel from 9pm tonight.
The tunnel is shutting so an overnight safety exercise can take place and all services will be suspended, with the last UK departure at 9.20pm and the first departure leaving the UK at be 6.20am tomorrow and from France at 7.20am.
Meanwhile, a statement tweeted by P&O said: ‘The Port of Calais is resolving a security incident. As a result our vessels are subject to delay of between 90 and 120 minutes.’
The travel giant then tweeted at around 8pm that the situation was still ongoing but vessels were being allowed to dock at the port again and loading would commence shortly.
In a video filmed by a bystander, crowds can be heard cheering as migrants try to force their way through the fence.
According to Reuters, port staff said some of the migrants have left the Spirit of Britain voluntarily and the rest will be removed by police if necessary.
Danish firm DFDS Seaways called the incident a ‘migrant invasion’, adding the port would be reopened once police had cleared them out.
Witness Ben Ferguson said: ‘Demonstrators broke police lines & headed to the port. In spite of clouds of teargas a group prised open fence b4 (sic) crowd followed.’
A statement from the Port of Dover said the French port was experiencing ‘migrant activity’ which had caused disruption to services.
It read: ‘The Port of Calais is currently experiencing migrant activity which has caused disruption to ferry services. Therefore services to and from Calais via the Port of Dover are affected, but DFDS Seaways services are still running to Dunkirk as normal.
‘The Port of Dover remains open for business, but the duration of this disruption to services remains unknown.’
Some people from Britain were present at the demonstration while others carried banners saying ‘refugees welcome here’.
But France is under pressure from Britain to secure the region and the French premier said this week that Europe cannot welcome everyone.
Mr Corbyn’s visit comes amid a growing urgency over the migrant crisis, with French prime minister Manuel Valls warning the huge influx is putting the European Union’s future in ‘grave danger’.
During his visit, Mr Corbyn was given a tour of the site meeting refugees and aid workers before speaking of the ‘dreadful situation’ faced by people camped in the swamp-like conditions.
He said: ‘What I’m trying to achieve here is to understand the nature of the refugee crisis that’s facing the whole of Europe.
‘Ultimately we deal with the situation by dealing with the problem at its source, which are the wars and conflicts.
‘Also, there are the human needs of people. We have got people here who have been here for months, if not longer than that, with no proper education, no access to doctors, no access to dentists, limited access to food – in very cold, very wet conditions.
‘These conditions are a disgrace anywhere. We as human beings have to reach out to fellow human beings.’
Mr Corbyn said Britain should be part of a pan-European effort to help the people affected by the crisis.
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