FOUR Polish nationals have been arrested after the discovery of 15 children and 53 adults on lorries during a port search.
The lorry drivers were arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration, after the vehicles arrived from Holland.
The stowaways - 35 Afghan nationals, 22 Chinese nationals, 10 people from Vietnam and one Russian - were discovered at Harwich International Port after a search by Border Force officials.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We can confirm Border Force officers discovered 53 adults and 15 children during a proactive search of four lorries which had arrived at Harwich port from Holland on Thursday evening.
“Seven of those discovered were taken to hospital as a precaution, before being released. All 68 individuals are now in the care of Border Force.
“Four Polish nationals, who were driving the vehicles, have been arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration. They have been taken to separate police stations and will now be questioned by the Home Office’s criminal investigations team while inquiries continue.”
Following a search at the same port in February last year, two illegal immigrants plunged to their deaths after jumping from a ship in an attempt to swim to shore.
Artur Doda, 24, and Leonard Isufaj, 27, both from Tirana, Albania, were seen leaping from one of the world’s largest ferries, the Stena Britannica, about 500 metres (1,600ft) off Harwich at about 9.50am on February 26 2014.
They had been found in the back of a lorry along with 13 others of mixed nationalities after it was randomly selected for X-ray as it entered the port six hours earlier.
It is thought they were part of a group which had broken into the vehicle without the driver’s knowledge as part of an organised people smuggling operation.
An inquest at Chelmsford heard that Mr Doda was sliced to death by the “machete-like” motion of the ship’s propeller and Mr Isufaj drowned after they were both sucked underwater almost immediately after jumping over the side, ten minutes into the journey back to the Hook of Holland.
Mr Isufaj’s body was found on March 20 on Felixstowe beach while Mr Doda was found floating in the water off Essex on April 29.
Coroner Eleanor McGann recorded a conclusion that both men died accidental deaths, adding that it was difficult to make recommendations to the Government based on this case.
“This is all part of a bigger picture on immigration and how it’s handled, and nothing I could say could help prevent such sad deaths in future,” she said.