Surrey: Suspected migrants found ‘struggling to breathe’ in back of lorry on M25

Twelve people have been found in the back of a lorry on the M25 after police were alerted by concerned members of the public. Emergency services were called to the motorway near Chertsey, Surrey, after receiving reports that occupants were on board and struggling to breathe at around 11am on Thursday. Surrey Police officers stopped a number of lorries in a bid to identify the correct vehicle.

Eleven men and one woman, believed to be migrants from Ethiopia, were found inside the lorry.

Image: Police stopped the lorry on the M25 near Chertsey on Thursday morning

Traffic was "backed up for miles" as a result of the incident, an eyewitness told Sky News. Motorist Melissa Bell was travelling eastbound on the M25 to Leatherhead when traffic ground to a halt.

"There was a lorry which had been stopped by multiple police cars and there were ambulances there, too," she said.

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"There were numerous East African-looking men. Some were lying face-down on the hard shoulder and some were sat up with masks on. "I just couldn't understand it.

I've never seen anything like it." Surrey Police said the lorry was stopped between junctions 10 and 11 on the anti-clockwise carriageway around 11.30am. Two lanes of the motorway were closed while officers dealt with the incident.

The force's roads policing unit confirmed both junctions reopened around 1.45pm. "Officers were given a very limited description of a lorry, and were told that people on board were struggling to breathe," a force spokesperson added. "This resulted in police needing to stop a number of lorries quickly to try and identify the one involved.

"Eleven men and one woman, believed to be clandestine migrants, were found in the back of the lorry."

Surrey: Suspected migrants found 'struggling to breathe' in back of lorry on M25Image: A motorist told Sky News how the traffic was 'backed up for miles'

The suspected migrants were checked by paramedics at the roadside before being taken into police custody. The matter will now be dealt with by immigration enforcement. Immigration minister Chris Philp said in a statement sent to Sky News: "The government is tackling illegal immigration and the harm it causes, often to the most vulnerable people, by removing those with no right to be in the UK.

"We continue to work with law enforcement agencies and tackle illegal migration in all its forms.

"Our New Plan for Immigration will speed up the removal of those who have entered the UK illegally."