Twenty-five people were rescued from a refrigerated truck on a ferry in Vlaardingen on Tuesday evening. The Britannia Seaways cargo ship, which sails under the Danish flag, and was en route to the UK port of Felixstowe, turned back to the Dutch port after an alarm was raised that the stowaways were discovered.
Up to 20 ambulances were sent to the Vulcaanhaven port to meet the returning ship, Dutch broadcaster NOS reports. Upon returning to dock, the stowaways were medically examined before taken away by bus around 9 pm.
Two stowaways with medical complaints were transported to the hospital to be checked for hypothermia, according to a statement posted on the website of regional emergency services.
The driver of the lorry was detained and was being questioned over possible involvement, police told the NOS.
Mirjam Boers, a spokeswoman for Rotterdam police, told the broadcaster RTL that all migrants found on the ship were undergoing checks by emergency responders, but could not comment on the severity of their conditions.
“The highest priority is to check how they’re doing medically … This is about human lives and the main thing is that they’re all okay,” she said.
More and more illegal migrants are using the port of Rotterdam to get to their next destination, according to figures about released in June. In the first five months of 2019, the police found 580 stowaways, 28 percent more than last year. This mainly involved Albanians (226 people), Afghans (118) and Iraqis (48).
In October, 39 migrants were found dead in a refrigerated truck in Essex. All of the 39 people who died were Vietnamese nationals, who had travelled inside a refrigerated container from Zeebrugge in Belgium.
Two lorry drivers have since been charged with manslaughter, and several other men have been arrested in connection with the case.