Fifteen illegal migrants, including children, were found in the back of a refrigerated truck at a service station on the M25 motorway as officers responded to reports that suspected illegal immigrants were inside and possibly dead.
Five people were rushed to hospital after travelling inside the -25°C (-13°F) truck. The five minors found inside the white HGV were placed in the care of social services.
The group is believed to have boarded the truck in Holland and travelled through the Channel Tunnel among boxes of frozen roast potatoes.
The migrants, who included a family of four with two children, were reportedly migrants from Iraq, Syria, and Iran.
The driver, who was travelling north, stopped at the Clacket Lane service station before calling emergency services to report loud bangs coming from inside the van.
Police confirmed that it received two calls, one from the driver and one from a person inside the freezing container.
“Naturally, it was a very high-speed response to this,” Surrey Police inspector Alan Nicholls told BBC News. “We have attended, together with the South East Coast ambulance service, and assessed 15 people taken out of the back of this vehicle. None of them, I’m pleased to say, are dead.
“Five have been taken to East Surrey hospital for a check-up and some of the 10 that were left were juveniles so we’re looking at getting them placed with the social services, and another five will go down to Dover for immigration.”
The driver is said to be assisting with inquiries, while the adults inside the truck were detained on suspicion of illegal entry.