16 found alive in sealed trailer on Ireland-bound ferry

2019-11-22 03:24:38 GMT2019-11-22 11:24:38(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

DUBLIN, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- A total of 16 people were found alive in a sealed trailer of a truck on a ferry heading towards Ireland from France, Irish national radio and television broadcaster RTE reported on Thursday.

Stena Line, operator of the ferry, confirmed the report by saying in a statement that the 16 people were found by an employee of the ferry who heard the banging from inside the truck parked on the vehicle deck of the ferry, which is due to arrive at Rosslare Europort, a sea port in southeast Ireland at 3:30 p.m. Irish time.

The report quoted the Stena Line statement as saying all the people found are in "good health" and have been moved to a lounge area on the ship.

Stena Line said it has alerted the security and immigration officials shortly after the discovery, which, according to RTE, was made at about 9:20 a.m. Thursday Irish time, almost 12 hours after the ferry left the port of Cherbourg in northwest France on Wednesday night.

The 16 people are understood to be from a country in the Middle East, local newspaper The Irish Times reported. However, the report failed to mention the name of the country.

The RTE said in its follow-up reports about the incident that these people may be from Asia.

The people, all males, reportedly aged between 20 and 40, will be checked medically before further actions are taken, local authorities said.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told local media that the government's initial response to these people will be a humanitarian one to make sure they are well and their health is good.

"After that, of course, there will need to be a response that involves the Gardai (Irish word meaning police), because as you know human trafficking is illegal, and we'll need to see what happens with the people who come ashore," he said.

Thursday's incident happened after 39 Vietnamese were found dead in a refrigerated container at the back of a truck in Essex, southeast England, about a month ago.