Britain’s busiest motorway was temporarily closed yesterday after police received a panicked call from a group of migrants saying they were in the back of a lorry and struggling to breathe.
Emergency services were called to the M25 in Chertsey, Surrey just after 11am amid fears that a group of stowaways in a container were suffocating.
Unfortunately the police were not given exact details of the lorry involved so were forced to stop a number of vehicles on the road in a desperate bid to find the one involved.
Two lanes of the motorway had to be closed while police carried out searches, creating huge tailbacks.
They eventually identified the correct container between Junctions 10 and 11 and were able to release the group, who were fortunately unharmed.
The incident brought back chilling memories of the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants who perished in the back of a lorry in Essex in October 2019.
Surrey Police said eleven men and a woman from Sudan and Eritrea had been removed from the lorry and after being checked by paramedics had been taken into custody and handed over to the immigration authorities.
Police said it was not believed the driver knew that the migrants were in the back of the lorry, but enquiries were ongoing.
A spokesman for Surrey Police said: "Officers were given a very limited description of a lorry, and were told that people on board were struggling to breathe. This resulted in police needing to stop a number of lorries quickly to try and identify the one involved.
"The correct lorry was stopped between J10 and 11 on the anti-clockwise carriageway around 11.30am.
"Eleven men and one woman, believed to be clandestine migrants, were found in the back of the lorry.
"They have been checked by paramedics at the roadside and taken into police custody. Immigration services will be dealing with the matter.
"Two lanes of the motorway were closed whilst officers attended the incident, but have since been reopened."