One person has died and four suspected Iraqi people smugglers have been arrested, after they were shot by police during a 140 mile an hour chase through Belgium in a British registered car filled with drugs.
The dramatic sequence of events, involving three separate crashes, began in the early hours of the morning when a lorry driver discovered 17 allegedly illegal migrants in the back of his truck, and was threatened with a knife.
The trail of carnage led from a main road in Belgium, and ended across the French border near Dunkirk. Police were called when the migrants were found, at 5:40am, with the four people smugglers speeding away in a British register Audi as they arrived.
In hot pursuit, officers began to fire on the foreign fugitives on the road between Nieupoort and Oostduinkeke in Belgium. Two of the suspected people smugglers were hit, one in the arm and the other in the abdomen. Both were seriously injured.
As the Audi approached an unrelated crash up ahead, fire engines and emergency vehicles rushed to move out of the way. The Audi was so damaged by this point it was driving on metal rims, sending sparks flying.
It swerved, smashing into the side of the road, as it desperately struggle to avoid the vehicles in the road, a police source told Voix De Nord.
The four occupants were taken to hospital in Lille by helicopter. One has “life threatening injuries”, while another is “also very badly hurt”.
Later, as a motorbike attempted to pass the traffic jam that had built up, it was struck by an oncoming lorry and the rider was killed.
The police sources also said an unquantified amount of illegal drugs had been found in the crashed Audi.
The road was closed for some time, but has since re-opened with tailbacks stretching about 10 miles.