A German lorry driver has been arrested on suspicion of people smuggling after 15 immigrants – including a 15-year-old boy – were found suffering from dehydration in a container at a service station.
Several people called police after hearing ‘banging and shouting’ coming from the back of a lorry off the A303 in Ilminster, Somerset today.
The group included 11 men in their late teens and early 20s, three women and a 15-year-old boy, from Eritrea and Kashmir. They were treated by paramedics at the scene.
The driver, who was in his late 30s, was held on suspicion of facilitating the unlawful entry of people into the UK.
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A man has been arrested on suspicion of people smuggling after a lorry containing 15 immigrants – including a 15-year-old boy – from Eritrea and Kashmir suffering from dehydration were found at a service station in Ilminster
Police arrived at the service station off the A303 in Ilminster at 1pm today where they made the discovery
The lorry, owned by international freight company Thermotraffic, was heading in the direction of Devon after arriving in the UK earlier today from Calais.
Superintendent Geoff Wessell, of Avon and Somerset Police, told Sky News the river appeared ‘shocked’
He said: ‘He was quite shocked to find people in his vehicle and he is assisting us with our inquiries.
‘There were a number of calls being made and I am aware that the driver was in contact with his company and everything happened almost at the same time.
‘I am also aware that the driver was trying to find a safe place to pull over, so the driver did pull over very willingly when police officers got behind the vehicle.’
Mr Wessell said some of the group could speak English and were thought to have been on the refrigerated lorry for ‘several hours’.
‘They told us they got onto the vehicle in mainland Europe at one of the main ferry ports but we don’t have the details of their journey at the moment,’ he said.
The group, which included men, women and a 15-year-old boy, were treated by paramedics at the scene for possible dehydration
Avon and Somerset Police has confirmed medical support and supplies have been provided and it is now working with the local authority to manage their ongoing welfare needs
‘We responded as soon as we got the call from a member of the public. They were quite distressed and it got very hot in the vehicle and they were quite dehydrated. They had been in the vehicle several hours.
‘It is never nice for officers to have to deal with something like this but luckily when they opened the wagon up the occupants were distressed but there was no one seriously injured.’
The group were thought to be suffering from dehydration and were examined by paramedics at the scene.
‘There are no ongoing concerns over their health or wellbeing and they’ve been provided with medical support and supplies,’ a force spokesman said.
‘We’re now liaising with the local authority to manage their ongoing welfare needs.
‘The lorry, which originated in mainland Europe, has been seized as part of our investigation.
‘A man, who is from Germany, has been arrested on suspicion of facilitating the unlawful entry of people into the UK.’
The lorry, which originated in mainland Europe, has been seized as part of the police’s ongoing investigation.
A man from Germany has been arrested on suspicion of facilitating the unlawful entry of people into the UK.
The discovery comes after police have arrested a man over the death of an immigrant found in a container at Tilbury Docks.
Those in the lorry have been given food and water and have been taken to place of safety where police are speaking to them. They are believed to be from Kashmir and Eritrea and they can speak English
The 34-year-old, from Limavady, Northern Ireland, was arrested just after midday at Banbridge on the A1, Essex Police said. He is being questioned on suspicion of manslaughter and facilitating illegal entry into the UK.
Meet Singh Kapoor, 40, from Afghanistan, was found dead inside the container in Essex on Saturday.
Members of the 34-strong group, including 13 children, survived the ordeal.
They are all Afghan Sikhs from Kabul.
The survivors are now in the care of the Home Office after being interviewed by police and are in the process of applying for asylum in the UK.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We are continuing to provide expert support, along with the National Crime Agency, to the Essex Police investigation into the discovery of 35 people in a container at the port of Tilbury on Saturday.
‘This tragic incident is a reminder of the devastating human consequences of illegal migration and we will do all we can to help bring those responsible to justice.
‘All 34 are now in the process of claiming asylum in the UK and we are providing accommodation and support to those who require it while their cases are considered.
‘The UK takes its international obligations extremely seriously and has a proud history of offering protection to those who need it.’
The Home Office does not comment on individual cases and any decision will not be announced publicly.
The man is in the custody of PSNI, awaiting transportation to the mainland to be questioned by Essex Police.
Officers are searching his home address.
Meanwhile two men have been remanded in custody charged with a string of people trafficking and forced labour offences in Northern Ireland.
The pair, Romanian nationals, faced more than 50 charges when they appeared before Lisburn Magistrates’ Court.
Ioan Lacatus, 31, of Portadown, Co Armagh and Samuil Covaci, 23, also of Portadown, are each accused of 12 counts of people trafficking as well as 12 forced labour charges. They also face charges of acting as an unlicensed gang master.