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Felixstowe: Missing ‘overboard’ immigrants may be part of a human smuggling operation

PUBLISHED: 10:55 28 February 2014 | UPDATED: 10:55 28 February 2014

Search and rescue operation off the coast of Felixstowe.

Search and rescue operation off the coast of Felixstowe.

Sarah Lucy brown

Two Albanian illegal immigrants were still missing last night – with the authorities still unsure whether or not they jumped overboard from a passenger ferry.

It has been revealed that the pair were among a group of 13 being deported after arriving on an earlier ferry sailing and having been refused entry into the UK.

Minutes after the Stena Britannica set sail from Harwich for the Hook of Holland, Thames Coastguard received a Mayday call reporting 
that two men had jumped from the vessel.

A massive air-sea search and rescue operation was launched off Felixstowe with about 20 vessels, including three RNLI lifeboats along with tugs, a pilot cutter, and fishing boats, plus the Suffolk Constabulary helicopter and a rescue helicopter from Wattisham Airfield, taking part.

On shore, land-based Coastguard rescue units from Felixstowe and Shingle Street searched the coastline between Old Felixstowe and Landguard, and the banks of the River Orwell and Deben estuaries.

Although two jackets were found floating on the sea, there was no sign of the men, despite a thorough and precisely-targeted search using the latest technology and techniques.

A Border Force spokesman said yesterday: “On Wednesday, 13 individuals who had arrived on a ferry at Harwich were refused entry to the UK by Border Force officers.

“They were returned to the Netherlands on a later ferry. Upon its arrival in the Netherlands only 11 of the 13 were accounted for by the Dutch authorities.

“We are aware of reports that two people jumped from the ferry after it departed Harwich and Border Force assisted police and the coastguard with their search operation.

“The same vessel returned to the UK this morning and Border Force officers carried out extra checks on vehicles as they arrived.

“Two Albanian nationals remain unaccounted for.

“The matter is now the subject of a missing persons inquiry, which is being led by Essex Police.”

The Dutch Royal Police are also carrying out investigations in the Netherlands and believe the immigrants could be part of an international human smuggling operation.

They plan to interview those who were returned before deporting them to their homeland.

Stena Line would not comment on the identity of the missing passengers, but said the company did everything possible to ensure its North Sea services are not used by people attempting to gain illegal entry into the UK.

5 comments

  • To clarify for the above commenter; I'm not 100% whether they would appear on the manifest as generally Border Force try to remove people as quickly as possible, I.e. On the same day as detection and I m not sure whether or not they make it on to the manifest. Regards supervision and restraint; Border Force officers are not responsible for the escort on return of clandestine detected at the frontier. Once the necessary paperwork etc is completed and a ship is ready to disembark the clandestines will be handed over to the likes of g4s who do use rigid handcuffs. However it is down to g4s whether or not they keep the detainees in handcuffs for the duration of the voyage. It may be that the handcuffs are removed once underway.

    Report this comment

    James Matthews

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • @ Miguel100 the only thing I wanted to say to you is that. I hope 1 day that one of the members of your family has the same fate! They are only human beings trying to find a better life. Shame on you

    Report this comment

    oli sina

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • more fairy tales.

    Report this comment

    TERENCE MANNING

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • It is a legal requirement that all those on board a ship are on the manifest.

    Report this comment

    Seasidemac

    Saturday, March 1, 2014

  • 1. What about the ships manifest with the names of everyone who embarks and disembarks. 2.How could they jump overboard when supervised by Border Agency officials who should have kept them below deck these people are desperate. 3. How did they manage to swim ashore handcuffed. I will now answer my own questions 1. They were not on the manifest. 2. They were not supervised by Border Agency officials. 3. They were not handcuffed because of human rights. Please correct me if you think i am wrong.

    Report this comment

    royg

    Friday, February 28, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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