Sixteen Eritrean stowaways found in lorry in Peterborough

Lorry discovered with suspected stowaways in Peterborough Image copyright James Thorburn
Image caption Eyewitness James Thorburn said he saw people clambering over the pallets in the lorry

Sixteen African stowaways have been found in a lorry which had come from France, at a factory in Peterborough.

The 11 adults and five teenagers from Eritrea were found at Perkins Engines shortly before 09:30 BST.

They had entered the country illegally and had been arrested, a Home Office spokesman said.

The 10 males and six females have been taken to Thorpe Wood police station in Peterborough and will be interviewed by immigration officers.

Security staff at Perkins were alerted by the lorry driver who told them he believed someone was in the back of his vehicle, a company spokesman said.

Image caption Sixteen people were removed from the vehicle at the Perkins plant

The lorry contained engine components from a supplier in France, he added.

James Thorburn, a courier company employee from Raunds in Northamptonshire, witnessed the police opening the back of the lorry as he was completing a delivery at Perkins.

"I saw the police just inside the lorry, and then there were the poor little stowaways, bless them," he said.

"It was dark but I could see them come clambering over the pallets as the police asked them to come forward.

"I only saw about five or six of them, but one was a little girl who only looked about 13," Mr Thorburn added.

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