UK & World News

  • 20 August 2014, 4:49

Dehydrated Migrants Found In Somerset Lorry

Fifteen young migrants suffering from dehydration have been found in the back of a lorry at a service station in Somerset.

Avon and Somerset Police said the vehicle was stopped at about1pmby the Southfields roundabout on the A303near Ilminster after officers received calls about "shouts and banging" coming from the back of the lorry.

The German lorry driver, who is also understood to have raised the alarm with his boss in Denmark, has been arrested on suspicion of facilitating the unlawful entry of people into the UK and is being questioned by officers at Yeovil police station.

The eleven men, three women and a 15-year-old boy found inside the refrigerated box lorry, told police they were from Eritrea, in the Horn of Africa, and Kashmir, the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent.

They received treatment and were checked over by paramedics.

Officers said they were working with immigration authorities to determine how the people got on board the vehicle.

The lorry, owned by Thermotraffic, an international freight company, left Sweden last Friday bound for Cornwall via Germany, the driver'sboss, based at the company's Scandinavian branch, told Sky News.

The driver was due to drop off industrial cargo in Exeter and Plymouth this afternoon before picking up flowers and vegetables to return to the Continent on Wednesday.

He also said the refrigerated box was locked with a "bull" lock and could only be opened via the rear doors.

Superintendent Geoff Wesselltold Sky News: "Officers opened up the back to find 15 people in quite a state of distress.

"It got very hot in the vehicle and they were quite dehydrated. They had been in the vehicle several hours.

"I am aware the driver was in contact with his company... and was trying to find a safe place to pull over.

"He was quite shocked to find people in his vehicle and he is assisting us with our inquiries."

MrWessell said some of the people found in the lorry could speak English and were able to tell officers they got into the back of the vehicle in mainland Europe, on the other side of the Channel, at one of the main ferry ports.

Most of the men and women are believed to be in their late teens or early20s.

Sky's David Bowden said: "It's clear they didn't start their journey together.

"We are assuming that somewhere in mainland Europe they were brought together and got onto this lorry.

"The lorry was at the ferry port in Calais overnight. The driver slept in his cab for 11-12 hours. It was dormant, it was in the dark. Is that when these people got in themselves, or somebody put them in there?"

The truck was later driven away from the petrol station and is currently in the hands of police.

A spokeswoman for Thermotraffic said the firm took incidents of human trafficking very seriously, adding: "At the moment we are in close contact with the British public authorities and support them to investigate the situation."

The discovery comes three days after the death of Meet Singh Kapoor, 40, from Afghanistan, whose body was found inside a container at Tilbury Docks in Essex on Saturday.

The rest of the 34-strong group of Afghan Sikhs from Kabul, which included 13 children, survived the ordeal.

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