Police rescue three migrants 'suffocating and struggling to breathe'

Police say three migrants rescued from inside refrigerated lorry from France were ‘suffocating and struggling to breathe’

  • Cambridgeshire Police were alerted when someone inside called to raise alarm
  • Three migrants told police they were ‘suffocating and struggling to breathe’
  • The vehicle, believed to be from France, was tracked to Brampton Hut services
  • Case echoes ‘heartbreaking’ deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants in Essex in 2019

This is the sealed refrigerated lorry where three migrants were saved from suffocating after calling police to say they were ‘struggling to breathe’.  

Cambridgeshire Police said the vehicle, believed to have travelled from France, was tracked along the A14 and the M11 with the help of Essex Police. 

‘Those in the back of the lorry called us for help saying they were suffocating and struggling to breathe,’ a Cambridgeshire Police spokesperson said. 

‘A hunt for the vehicle was launched and the lorry, believed to have travelled from France, was found at Brampton Hut services just before 4.30pm.’

The three men were found to be safe and uninjured in the back of the truck, as police shared an image of a lorry being examined at a truck stop, and have been passed onto the immigration services.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Police said the driver was not arrested.

The story has chilling echoes of another high profile people smuggling case which saw 39 Vietnamese people die in the back of a refrigerated truck in Essex in 2019.

The migrants suffocated as they were transported across the Channel inside an airtight container, enduring unbearable temperatures and sealed in pitch darkness for almost 12 hours.

Cambridgeshire Police said they had rescued three migrants from suffocating in the back of a lorry after calling 999 to say they were ‘struggling to breathe’ 

After yesterday’s incident Cambridgeshire Police warned that human trafficking and slavery ‘are real’ and urged people to report any incidents. 

They compared the incident to the ‘heartbreaking’ Essex lorry deaths and urged anyone to report information to police if they spot signs of smuggling or human trafficking,

‘By sharing the work of our officers yesterday we aim to raise awareness of the signs of slavery and trafficking,’ a spokesperson for the force said. 

‘Many victims are offered the promise of a better life in the UK, but the reality is often anything but. 

‘The Essex lorry deaths from 2019 are one of the most heartbreaking reminders of this. 

‘Modern slavery is a force priority and we will do all we can to ensure people are safe.’ 

The force said stories like these highlight the real risks of people trafficking and modern slavery

The lorry, believed to have travelled from France, was tracked to Brampton Hut services near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

They added: ‘Stories like this may be distressing, but highlight that slavery and trafficking are real and police need the public’s help.’

Police have urged people to dial 999 if they see people emerging from a lorry or HGV, if they hear banging from inside a lorry or if they see people entering the back of a lorry.

People should be particularly vigilant at service stations or lay-bys, and should raise the alarm if anything about the vehicle doesn’t seem quite right.

The police spokesperson highlighted exampls, saying if produce is being thrown from the truck or something is being done to catch the attention of other motorists.

Anyone who sees any of the above is urged to call police on 999 and to take a note of the vehicle registration number.

Last year lorry driver Maurice ‘Mo’ Robinson pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese people who were found dead in the back of a refrigerated truck in Essex.  

Police at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays after the 39 bodies of Vietnamese migrants were found inside the lorry in October 2019

A photo showing pole marks inside the lorry trailer after migrants attempted to make air holes shortly before they suffocated

Driver Maurice Robinson (pictured), 26, who first discovered the deaths, admitted 39 counts of manslaughter

The bodies of eight females and 31 males, including 10 teenagers, were discovered in a trailer in an industrial park in Grays, Essex, in October 23.

Chilling photos released by police show how some of the 39 Vietnamese migrants who suffocated in the back of a lorry while being smuggled into Britain tried to create air holes with a metal pole.

The bloody handprints of victims who had banged frantically in vain for help as their oxygen supplies depleted were also found inside the sealed container. 

Robinson, 25, of Craigavon in Northern Ireland, was jailed for 13 years.  

The two ringleaders of the people-smuggling gang responsible, Ronan Hughes, 41, who ran a haulage company, and co-conspirator Gheorghe Nica, 43 were also jailed for 27 and 20 years respectively.

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