TER accident near Saint-Jean-de-Luz: the group was on the tracks to escape controls

The survivor of the TER accident that claimed the lives of three migrants told investigators the group had stopped to rest, fell asleep and did not see the train arriving.

The three dead migrants mown down by a train on Tuesday near Saint-Jean-de-Luz, had taken refuge on the tracks to escape possible controls, said Bayonne prosecutor Jérôme Bourrier on Wednesday evening, citing the testimony of a fourth survivor to the investigators.

Tuesday around 5 a.m., three migrants, most likely of Algerian nationality, died mown down by a TER to Saint-Jean-de-Luz station, while they seemed to be resting on the tracks.

A group whose members did not know each other

A fourth man with them, also Algerian, very seriously injured in the accident, spoke briefly on Wednesday, from his hospital bed, said the prosecutor.

He confirmed to investigators from the Bayonne judicial police that the group had taken the railroads to escape possible police checks. According to this survivor, the four men had stopped to rest, fell asleep and did not see the train arriving.

However, the man was not able to give the identities of the three victims. “The small group was formed a little earlier in Spain and they did not know each other,” said the prosecutor.

A tribute paid Wednesday evening

This Wednesday evening, about 200 people gathered in front of the Saint-Jean-de-Luz station, at the call of local associations of aid to migrants, to pay tribute to the victims of this tragedy.

According to Amaia Fontang, president of Etorkinekin, a collective which brings together 13 groups of support for migrants in the Basque Country, the drama occurred after “a day of significant police pressure in several points of the Basque Country”, which “could explain that these migrants sought refuge in a place to be quiet “.

“The only transit center for newcomers” is in Bayonne, more than 30 km from the Spanish border, added this activist.

Spain is one of the main gateways to Europe for migrants and the Basque Country is one of the important crossing points, theater of tragedies as in August and May, with the death of two migrants who were trying to cross the Bidasoa border river to cross into France.

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