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September 8, 2004

Eurotunnel leader dies

LONDON

Sir Alastair Morton, whose abrasive determination was instrumental in completing the Channel Tunnel between England and France, has died at age 66.

Morton died last Wednesday of a heart attack, his family said.

He was appointed co-chairman of Eurotunnel in 1987 and served as group chief executive from 1990 until 1994, when the undersea link opened.

Morton brought a sharp mind and an explosive temper to a task which many thought would be impossible: to complete the 50-kilometre tunnel entirely with private funding, as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher insisted.

The construction cost of 10 billion pounds ($23.3 billion Cdn.) was double the original estimate. Morton, who saw himself as representing the small shareholders in Eurotunnel, battled with the banks which financed the project and with Transmanche-Link, the consortium of construction companies which did the work.

Morton was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, the son of a Scottish oil engineer and his African wife.

The Associated Press

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