Eurotunnel passengers are today waiting for up to five hours to leave Britain in chaotic scenes where drivers abandoned their cars and one mother fainted while holding her baby because of the sweltering heat, MailOnline can reveal.
Huge queues have formed on the M20 near Folkestone because of complete gridlock around the terminal with temperatures in some vehicles reaching 102F (39C).
Eurotunnel’s problems started this morning after air-conditioning units failed on its trains because of the heat, meaning they had to leave carriages empty for safety reasons.
Instead customers, including children, the elderly and disabled, were forced to wait in their cars or fight their way into the already packed terminal building to shelter from the heat.
But they found shops have run out or are running out of food and water with the roads too blocked to bring more supplies.
Panicked staff opened a fire hydrant and encouraged people and pets to cool down in the water on the hottest day of the year so far.
This is the chaos on the M20 outside Folkestone caused by major delays at Eurotunnel as the summer holiday getaway started badly
Drivers and their families had no choice but to leave their cars and find some shade because of the dridlock
Temperatures in this car hit 102F (39C) as the traffic failed to move because of the five hour delays
Staff opened a fire hydrant and encouraged people and their pets to cool off in the water
Miles Kingman was among the thousands stranded at Folkestone and although he was due to leave at just after midday he expects to be on his way to Calais after 6pm.
Describing the chaos to MailOnline he said: ‘The Eurotunnel is crammed with cars. The area is full. Children, pets and the elderly all being left to queue in their cars getting extremely hot.
‘The Eurotunnel people continue to let people in and now the car park is rammed with cars and people just ditching their cars in the road.
‘Many people are staying their cars rather than entering the rammed terminal building however the sun is getting to them. Many people are just left on the road without support, access to water or toilets.
‘Trains aren’t leaving but there’s no announcements as to why this has happened, there’s no apologies or blame being taken’.
He added: ‘They’re pumping water from fire hydrants onto the pavements and encouraging people and dogs to use it to get cool. However this water looks dusty and dirty.
‘It’s an avoid at all costs place. Lounges aren’t air conditioned as promised. Kids are being really well behaved when all they want is their well earned holiday’.
Many took to social media to berate Eurotunnel and tell their horror stories.
Jo Dargue tweeted: ‘Huge delays at @Eurotunnel trying to board our train to France. No reliable information, no water, a lady carrying a baby just fainted in the heat’.
Lydia Rodney wrote:: ‘We are queuing to board and the time keeps being pushed back – 3h30 and counting. Nowhere to go, the tarmac is boiling, our toddler is going mad in this heat. Having spent hundreds on our ticket for this hellish journey’.
Air conditioning on some carriages failed in the extreme heat so had to go empty
Queues in the Victor Hugo terminal snaked outside and people said that food and drink was running out
Footage and photographs posted on social media showed long queues of cars, caravans and lorries.
A Eurotunnel spokesman said: ‘Due to the exceptional and prolonged temperatures, some of the air-conditioning units on board our shuttles are struggling to produce sufficient cool air.
‘Our priority is customer well-being and safety so we are unable to board vehicles to these carriages.’
Passengers were advised to take plenty of drinking water and find toilet facilities before arriving.
Temperatures in Folkestone were expected to reach 31C on Thursday.
It is one of the busiest weeks of the year for Eurotunnel as the start of many school summer holidays leads to a surge in families travelling to France.