25 stowaways found hidden on cargo ship bound for England

Ambulance in Rotterdam, Netherlands
Stock photo of an ambulance in the Netherlands. April 1, 2019photo: jomahepu@gmail.com / DepositPhotos

Dozens of people were found hidden on board a DFDS cargo ferry ship that had departed the Netherlands for England. They were discovered by the ship's crew late Tuesday afternoon inside a refrigerated container.

Authorities say the 25 stowaways were all found alive. Two people were hospitalized, and 23 were treated at the scene. The 23 that were in good condition were then taken to an area police station.

The ship, Britannia Seaways, arrived at a Dutch harbor at 6:51 p.m., about four and a half hours after it departed Rotterdam for Felixstowe in Suffolk, England. By about 8 p.m. the first stowaways were being taken off the ship.

Reports of the discovery led to a massive emergency services response that sent dozens of personnel to the Vulcaanhaven in Vlaardingen, where the ship made port. About 20 ambulances were sent to the harbor, as well as a trauma team dispatched by helicopter, paramedics, police, and the Marechaussee, the unit of the military tasked with guarding the Dutch border.

"At the request of the emergency services, the Red Cross is sending two emergency response teams to Vlaardingen," the Dutch office of the Red Cross said on Twitter.

The ferry had originated in Rotterdam, just east of Vlaardingen. The ship turned back just after it passed the Hoek van Holland.

Specially trained dogs were used to search the ship for any other unauthorized people hiding on board the ship. Nobody else was found, and by 10:05 p.m. the emergency response was concluded.