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The BBC's Jon Sopel in Paris
"Managed to get into a compartment normally locked"
 real 56k

Insp Richard Allison of the British Transport Police
"Some of the passengers could hear a loud banging"
 real 28k

The BBC's Sarah Lockett
"Passengers were alerted by frantic banging"
 real 56k

Saturday, 3 March, 2001, 09:17 GMT
Officials question train immigrants
Eurostar terminal at Waterloo
The immigrants were discovered at London Waterloo
Immigration officials are questioning nine illegal immigrants discovered hidden beneath a Eurostar train from Paris.

A girl of three was among the group found in a compartment under the 186mph train when it arrived at Waterloo station, London.

Police seized them after passengers on board heard frantic banging noises and raised the alarm.

The group says they are Romanians and have claimed asylum, the Home Office said.

Eurostar
Eurostar is investigating the incident

The five females and four men were examined by a doctor but none required medical treatment despite the ordeal of their three hour journey.

After questioning by immigration officers they were taken to the Oakington reception centre in Cambridgeshire.

Chief Inspector Ray Ratty, of British Transport Police, said the Eurostar had arrived in London at 1347GMT and was about to depart for Brussels at 1423GMT.

A British Transport Police spokesman added that the immigrants were all found in a recess beneath one of the carriages.

"The space is a void in the infrastructure beneath the train, part of the actual chassis. The people were all wedged in there.

"It is open to the elements and is not closed off by a hatch. It must have been very cold."


If there is a loophole, then we will block it.

Eurostar
The spokesman added: "All the people were found in the same space, not spread down the train."

Eurostar spokesman Roger Harrison said the Eurostar had been "stabled" overnight at a depot in Paris, before leaving at 1043GMT.

There was strict security at the depot and Eurostar stations in France to prevent unauthorised access to trains, he added.

"Clearly, how they got on is what we are currently investigating. If there is a loophole, then we will block it.

"This is something we haven't had before, someone actually hiding beneath one of our trains," Eurostar spokeswoman Daniella Fraser added.

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16 Jan 01 | Business
Eurostar revenue rises
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