A Britannia Seaways cargo ship headed from the Netherlands to Britain was turned back on Tuesday night when 25 stowaways were reportedly discovered on board in a refrigerated container.
The Britannia Seaways ferry was turned back to the port of Vlaardingen, just outside of Rotterdam.
Two of the migrants were taken to hospital for treatment while the other 23 received a medical check-up in the port before being taken away by police for processing, according to a statement posted on the website of regional emergency services.
The origins of the migrants are not yet known, and images of the stowaways being led to buses show mainly young men.
Mirjam Boers, a spokeswoman for Rotterdam police said : “The ship was a couple of kilometres into its journey when the crew discovered that there were stowaways on board. There were around 25 people. The ship turned back, and they are now all ashore, and the top priority is to find out how they are doing medically.
“Twenty ambulances are here, and we are caring for them. They were discovered in a refrigerated container and we are most concerned with how they are doing. This is about people’s lives.”
The driver had been detained for questioning over his possible involvement in human trafficking, the police spokeswoman said .
The Britannia Seaways ferry is owned by Danish operator DFDS (DFDS.CO) that had just embarked on a run across the North Sea to Felixstowe in southern England.
Recall that on October 23, 39 bodies, all believed to be Vietnamese migrants, were discovered in the back of a refrigerated truck near London.
Two people were charged in Britain and eight in Vietnam over the deaths. The container in which the bodies were found had arrived on a ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium.