Dramatic moment six migrants trapped in refrigerated lorry are saved
10th November 2020

EXCLUSIVE: Dramatic moment six migrants trapped in refrigerated truck at Watford Gap services are saved by passer-by who heard their screams

  • The migrants were locked in a Poland-registered lorry at the services on the M1 
  • Six men from the Middle East were banging from inside the truck and screaming
  • Ghulam Parvaz heard them and tried to get them out but the cab was padlocked 
  • He called police who used powerful bolt cutters on the padlock and free the men
  • Finally on Saturday night they emerged looking dazed were met by Border Force

This was the dramatic moment six migrants were saved from suffocation or an icy tomb by the quick thinking of a lorry driver.

Barely a year after the tragic deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants also trapped inside a refrigerated lorry, driver Ghulam Parvaz feared he was about to witness an horrific repeat.

The trucker heard frantic banging coming from inside another locked refrigerated wagon as the six men inside shouted for their lives.

Mr Parvaz, 49, first heard the desperate pounding coming from the back of the Poland-registered truck after pulling alongside it at Watford Gap services on the M1 for a snack and went to investigate.


This is the moment six men from the Middle East were freed from a locked refrigerated truck at Watford Gap services on the M1 on Saturday night after their bangs and shouts were heard

But as the sound intensified inside, the shocked driver and other colleagues found the doors securely padlocked and sealed with security tags.

Worried that the terrified occupants, who could hear that they had been discovered, might suffocate or freeze to death, the drivers called the police.

An officer who first arrived on the scene tried his best but had to call for colleagues with powerful bolt cutters to snap the padlock and free the men.

Ghulam Parvaz (above) pulled up at the services to get McDonald’s when he heard shouts and banging from inside the lorry 

‘I’d pulled over for a McDonald’s at Watford services when I heard this terrible commotion,’ Mr Parvaz said.

‘It was a desperate pounding coming from the back of a trailer on a refrigerated lorry with Poland number plates.

‘I went to try and open the doors and the entire trailer was sealed.

‘A couple of other drivers joined me and we were trying to prise the doors open but we couldn’t.

‘The doors were padlocked and had security tags on them.

‘We called the police and they couldn’t get it open either at first.’

Finally at 8pm on Saturday, the six men emerged looking dazed as they were greeted by police and Border Force officials.

‘They were all alive and looked okay, but police took them away,’ added Mr Parvaz.

He told MailOnline that the unnamed lorry driver was not arrested, which was confirmed by Northamptonshire Police. 

On 23 October 2019, the bodies of 39 Vietnamese people — 29 men, 2 boys, and 8 women — were found in a refrigerated trailer in Grays, Essex.

The trailer had been shipped from Zeebrugge, Belgium, to Purfleet, Essex. 

Five men, including two lorry drivers who transported the trailer, were charged with manslaughter and other offences.

Four men are currently on trial at the Old Bailey in connection with the incident. Lorry driver Eamonn Harrison, 23, of Mayobridge, County Down, and Gheorghe Nica, 43, of Basildon, Essex, deny manslaughter.

Police were called to the scene and used a huge bolt cutter to remove the padlock and free the men and into the custody of Border Force officials who were waiting for them to come out

Mr Parvaz said he was worried that whoever was inside the Poland-registered truck would suffocate or freeze to death before police had the opportunity to open the truck doors

Harrison, together with another lorry driver, Christopher Kennedy, 24, of County Armagh, and Valentin Calota, 37, of Birmingham, deny being part of a people-smuggling conspiracy.

Earlier this week the trial was stalled when a close relative of one of the jurors tested positive for Covid-19 and the rest of the jury were sent home to self-isolate while a test result on the juror was awaited.

The incident comes as a record estimated 7,300 migrants have attempted the risky crossing of the Channel in flimsy boats, which last month cost the lives of a family of two adults and two children off Calais when their dinghy sank.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has described the immigration system as ‘fundamentally broken’ and plans a radical reboot.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, she promised to introduce legislation next year for the ‘biggest overhaul’ of the system in ‘decades’.

And she said those against her plans were ‘defending the indefensible’.

It comes after it emerged that the UK considered sending asylum seekers to an island in the Atlantic.

Ms Patel said changes ‘would take time’ and she would ‘accelerate the UK’s operational response’ to the issue in the meantime.

She pledged a new asylum system that welcomed people through ‘safe and legal routes’ and stopped those arriving illegally ‘making endless legal claims to remain’.

The system will include expediting the removal of those ‘who have no claim for protection’, she said.

The discovery of six men in a refrigerated truck at Watford Gap comes barely a year after fter the tragic deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants trapped inside a similar trailer in Grays, Essex

She added: ‘After decades of inaction by successive governments, we will address the moral, legal, practical problems with this broken system. Because what exists now is neither firm nor fair.

‘I will take every necessary step to fix this broken system amounting to the biggest overhaul of our asylum system in decades.’

A Northamptonshire Police spokesman said: ‘I can confirm we received a call at about 7.10pm on Saturday, October 31, from a member of the public who reported they could hear noises coming from the back of a lorry which was parked in the lorry park at Watford Gap Service on the northbound carriageway of the M1.

‘Officers attended and found six men – aged 19, 26, 31, 34, 34 and 35 – in the rear of a lorry.

‘The men were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences and were taken into police custody and handed over to the UK Border Agency.’

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