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Last Updated: Monday, 21 August 2006, 19:58 GMT 20:58 UK
Lorry fire closes Channel Tunnel
Eurotunnel trains stranded in Folkestone
Smoke was seen coming from a Eurotunnel freight service
Thirty-four people had to be led to safety after a fire broke out on a lorry being carried on a freight train in the Channel Tunnel.

The operator Eurotunnel said it suspended rail services on Monday afternoon when a fire alarm went off.

Lorry drivers were taken off the train in the north-running tunnel. A fire was put out about 7.5 miles (12km) from Folkestone. No-one was hurt.

Eurostar said passengers were being told to expect "continuing delays".

A spokesman for Eurostar said: "We are advising passengers to avoid travelling today if possible. Tickets can be exchanged for another day."

Eurotunnel's terminals re-opened at about 1700 BST with a limited service in operation.

Two freight shuttles are running every 90 minutes, with delays of up to two hours.

There are also reduced passenger services running every 90 minutes from Folkestone to France.

'Clear backlog'

Eurotunnel spokesman John Keefe said: "It was a freight shuttle going through with about 34 people on board, who have all been evacuated safely."

He added the small fire was extinguished quickly.

"Eurotunnel is conducting checks of the tunnel and its equipment. Once these investigations are completed, Eurotunnel will commence a progressive restart of commercial services," said Mr Keefe

Map graphic
Fire officers from Kent and France extinguished the blaze

"Unfortunately with this being a very busy time of year, it's going to take a few hours to clear the backlog once we've got started again."

A spokesman from Kent Fire and Rescue Service said crews from Folkestone, Deal and Ashford were sent to the scene, along with firefighters based at the tunnel, to help with efforts to reach the freight shuttle.

The 30 passengers and four crew were escorted to the service tunnel.

"Although smoke has been seen there has apparently been no flames and there have been no casualties," he said.

French fire crews also attended the incident.

Traffic using the tunnel was diverted to Dover.

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