British police have arrested four Polish drivers on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration after 68 people were found inside lorries at an English port.
Two pregnant women and 15 children were among the stowaways found at Harwich International Port on Thursday evening in four lorries which arrived from the Netherlands.
The expectant mothers and five other people were taken to hospital as a precaution but they have now been discharged, according to the Home Office interior ministry and the emergency services.
All 68 migrants-including 35 Afghans, 22 Chinese, 10 Vietnamese and one Russian- have been taken into the care of the UK Border Force.
“We can confirm Border Force officers discovered 53 adults and 15 children during a proactive search of four lorries which had arrived at Harwich port from Holland on Thursday evening,” a spokeswoman for the Home Office said.
She added: “Four Polish nationals who were driving the vehicles have been arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration.
“They have been taken to separate police stations and will now be questioned by the Home Office’s criminal investigations team while enquiries continue.”
Earlier, a statement from the East of England Ambulance Service said the emergency services had been called to the port shortly after 9pm to a report of several people locked in a container.
“The patients who were taken to hospital were suffering from abdominal and chest pains and were feeling faint. None are in a life-threatening or serious condition,” the statement added.
In August last year, 35 Sikh immigrants from Afghanistan were discovered in a container at Tilbury Docks in Essex.One of them, 40-year-old Meet Singh Kapoor, was found dead.
The group, whose ages ranged from one to 72, are believed to have fled Afghanistan after suffering persecution.
Thousands of migrants enter Britain illegally each year, many of them jumping into the back or under lorries at the French port of Calais to cross over the Channel to Dover on the southern English coast.
There were 30,000 recorded attempts to cross the Channel in the 10 months to January—around 100 a day and almost double the number for the previous year, official data showed.