Authorities in the UK quizzed a group of nine Iraqi migrants on Thursday (8 September) after they were rescued from the back of a lorry along with a 20-day-old baby. They were caught at Watford Gap services on the M1 in Northamptonshire on Tuesday. The group had smuggled into the UK from the Calais Jungle camp.
The baby was the youngest among the group of ten migrants, who covered around 2,500 miles in the suffocating, overcrowded Spanish-registered lorry before reaching Watford.
According to a report by the Sun, onlookers raised the alarm when they heard the sound inside the lorry at the service station. People from inside the lorry were shouting "no air", the report claimed.
"We heard banging and shouting from the lorry. The driver was standing looking confused. We could hear a male voice shouting to be let out. He was saying, 'No air' in a foreign accent and sounded desperate — but the driver made it clear he was not opening the cab without the police present.
"I got on the mobile and two cars arrived after 20 minutes," Richard Glover from Wellingborough, who called the police, said.
Police who opened the doors found the migrants suffocating in the boiling heat with the three-week-old toddler among them.
"I could see no food or water in the lorry. It had been a muggy night and it was a warm day, so conditions would have been stifling. They could all have suffocated in there – including the baby," Glover added.
However, it was said that the baby was fine and doing well. Immigration officials have started their investigation and questioned the group over how they smuggled themselves into the UK.
"Would-be migrants need to be aware that they are putting their lives, and those of their loved ones, at risk by attempting to reach the UK illegally.
"That is why we have increased security and boosted technology used at border controls and are working with law enforcement at home and abroad to target the criminal gangs who are often behind such attempts," a Home Office spokesperson said.
According to the Sun report, the family of the toddler left the Middle East over four weeks earlier as the baby's mother was in the last days of her pregnancy then. It is believed that they crossed into Turkey and paid a people-smuggler to travel by boat to Greece before making their way to France. It was also reported that the toddler's six-year-old brother drowned when the boat he was in sank.