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Eight migrants saved from suffocation in lorry in Zeebrugge

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Port authorities in Zeebrugge rescued eight migrants from the back of a refrigerated lorry in the port of Zeebrugge during the night.

The migrants were inside the back of a truck carrying a shipment of bread rolls from France to the United Kingdom. Arriving at Zeebrugge, however, the driver noticed the refrigeration unit has stopped working, and tried to unload her cargo at the port.

However seeing as it was damaged, she was not allowed to.

At that moment the migrants were still hidden among the palettes of bread, and went unnoticed. It is assumed the driver was not aware of the presence of the migrants.

But with the refrigeration off, the temperature inside the lorry began to rise, and the migrants were soon in breathing difficulties. They started to beat on the sides of the truck to attract attention, ultimately successfully.

Police said the migrants were originally from Iran and Iraq. They have now recovered.

The Polish driver has been questioned, but the prosecutor’s office at Bruges said there is no evidence she was involved in the smuggling. It is thought the migrants were placed in her lorry while she was resting.

According to the prosecutor’s office, the migrants were in the back of the lorry only briefly.

If the trailer had been left unattended after cooling off for later collection, the danger to life would have increased,” said spokesperson Frank Demeester.

As a result of the interference of the smugglers, the entire shipment of 22 palettes of bread have had to be destroyed. According to the magistrate in the prosecutor’s office in charge of prosecuting human trafficking, the incident shows how the crime can cause serious economic damage.

The latest result also shows how much more vigilant the authorities at Zeebrugge have become since the case of the 39 migrants who died in the back of a truck heading for the UK in October 2019. The crime was discovered in the port of Purfleet in Essex, where the lorry had travelled from Zeebrugge.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times