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Fire in English channel tunnel, no casualties reported

Fire in English channel tunnel, no casualties reported

Traffic in the undersea tunnel has been suspended.

Paris: A fire broke out Thursday on a train shuttling trucks under the EnglishChannel between England and France, suspending traffic in the undersea tunnel, officials said. All passengers were evacuated safely.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze after it broke out about seven miles from the French side, said a spokesman for Eurotunnel, the company that operates the tunnel. The spokesman was not authorised to be publicly named.

The shuttle train was carrying 32 people when the fire broke out just before 4 p.m. (1400 GMT), the spokesman said. Most were truck drivers accompanying their vehicles, and all were evacuated safely.

The fire erupted on a single truck carried by the train, France's rail operator SNCF said in addition to recommending that travelers postpone their travel plans through the tunnel until Friday.

Traffic in the 30-mile tunnel was suspended five minutes after the fire broke out, the official said. Firefighters were still examining the site Thursday afternoon.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, according to the regional administration office in Calais on the French coast.

Fires rarely break out in the tunnel, which opened to commercial traffic in 1994.

In August 2006, the tunnel was closed for several hours after a blaze on a truck loaded onto a freight train. No one was hurt.

A larger fire broke out aboard a train carrying heavy good vehicles through in the tunnel on November 18, 1996.

No one was killed but several people were injured and a large stretch of the tunnel was damaged. The fire led to new safety precautions for trains using the tunnel.
first published:September 11, 2008, 21:35 IST