'Poorly' immigrants found at Dover
DOVER, England -- A group of 26 Sri Lankan asylum seekers have been found crammed inside the back of a van at the English Channel port of Dover.
Police said the 23 men and three women were in "poor condition" and that conditions were so cramped they could have died.
The discovery, on Saturday, is reminiscent of the 58 Chinese asylum seekers found suffocated in the rear of a lorry at Dover last year.
Customs officials found the Sri Lankans in what was described as a medium-sized van.
It is understood they were found coughing and in severe distress.
A Kent Police spokesman told the Press Association: "It does not bear thinking about what could have happened to these people had the ferry they were on been delayed, or if their onward journey had been delayed.
"I understand they were in a very poor condition and were in a very distressed state. Their condition could have been far worse."
The immigrants were taken to hospital in nearby Canterbury for treatment where all but four of the group were later discharged.
They are being interviewed by immigration staff. Four were being kept in hospital for observation.
The driver of the van, a 27-year-old German woman, is in custody at Dover police station where she is being questioned.
In June last year 60 Chinese people tried to illegally enter Britain hidden in the back of the sealed lorry container laden with tomatoes that arrived in a ferry at Dover on one of the hottest days of the year.
Port officials found the bodies of 54 men and four women when they inspected the lorry that had travelled to Dover's eastern docks from The Netherlands. Only two had survived.
Those who died suffocated after the only air vent on the side of the lorry was closed during the five-hour ferry crossing from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.
In May this year, seven people were convicted in The Netherlands for trafficking illegal Chinese immigrants. Two other defendants were found not guilty.
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Port of Dover
Kent County Constabulary
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