One dead, 7 hurt as 125mph people smugglers chase ends in motorway pile-up

A motorway chase involving suspected people smugglers near the Belgian border has ended in three crashes, a pile-up and one dead. The high-speed pursuit left a motorcyclist dead and seven other people injured - four of them seriously. Gunshots were fired as the chase began along the road between Nieupoort and Oostduinkeke. Two suspected people smugglers in their British-registered car were badly wounded as police fired at least a dozen shots to get them to stop.

Shots were fired, and the car being chased caused a huge pile-up of traffic. There were numerous injuries and one fatality.

Traffic police source

The chase began after a lorry driver found 17 immigrants in his parked vehicle and was threatened with a knife. When Belgian police intervened, four Iraqis sped away in an Audi A4, hitting a police car. As they swerved in and out of traffic, there were a series of accidents, including one in which a motorcyclist crashed into the back of a lorry. Their car hit speeds of up to 125mph and was so badly damaged it was travelling on its wheel rims. The chase ended when the Audi hit a car which had been involved in a minor accident on the A16 over the French border near Dunkirk.

Both were hit by police bullets and immobilised, while two other men were arrested

Witness describes the end of the chase