UK & World News

  • 18 August 2014, 9:46

Footage Of Stowaways Freed From Ship Container

Belgian police have said they are almost certain they have CCTV images of the lorry and driver that dropped a container carrying 35 immigrants at a UK-bound ferry.

Crews discovered the group of Afghan Sikhs - thought to be victims of human trafficking - when "banging and screaming" was heard at Tilbury Docks in Essex.

The moment the terrified immigrants were released was filmed by a witness on his mobile phone.

Women can be heard crying and screaming while young children look frightened and confused.

One man, believed to be in his 40s, was found dead and others were taken to hospital suffering from severe dehydration and hypothermia.

Thirty of them have been discharged and the other four will remain in Southend Hospital overnight.

Of the 30, there are nine men and eight women aged between 18 and 72, and 13 children aged between one and 12.

Interpol and other international forces are helping Essex Police trace the lorry's route across Europe and find the suspected traffickers.

Peter De Waele, a spokesman for Belgium's federal police, told Sky News that detectives were checking "every image" of CCTV from Zeebrugge port.

"We have a lot of cameras and we are very hopeful for having information about identification of the driver.

"When you know that in this area there are a lot of cameras, you know also that we have plenty of information about the truck and the driver, and the firm who put the container in Zeebrugge."

Mr De Waele said the container was only at the busy port for about an hour and police believe the victims were probably already inside when it arrived.

Essex Police have launched a "homicide" investigation after the death of the male immigrant and detectives said charges could include murder or manslaughter.

They will speak to the survivors over the coming days.

Superintendent Trevor Roe, of Essex Police, said: "The welfare and health of the people is our priority at this stage.

"Now they are well enough, our officers and colleagues from the Border Force will be speaking to them via interpreters so we can piece together what happened and how they came to be in the container.

"We have had a good deal of help from partners within the local Sikh community in the Tilbury area to ensure that these poor people, who would have been through a horrific ordeal, are supported in terms of their religious and clothing needs."

Information on the ages of the immigrants or the relationship between them has not yet been released.

The group were found at 7.35am on Saturday when the Norsteam, a commercial ship run by P&O Ferries, was being unloaded in Tilbury.

Natalie Hardy, a company spokeswoman, said the ship had travelled overnight from Belgium and was carrying 64 containers, 72 trailers and five lorries and drivers.

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