Greek police have found 41 people alive in a refrigerated truck in a discovery that has underscored the extraordinary risk migrants are prepared to take to get into Europe.
At least a third were found to have trouble breathing, and seven were rushed to a nearby hospital with respiratory problems.
The vehicle’s refrigeration system had broken down by the time the truck was stopped at a motorway toll station outside the city of Xanthi in north-east Greece and its passengers, of apparent Afghan origin, were discovered.
“A police operation is under way but we believe the lorry entered the country from Turkey,” said Lt Col Theodoros Chronopolous, a police spokesman. “Discoveries of this sort are rare but happening more frequently mainly because migrants want to avoid the islands.”
The truck’s driver, a 40-year-old Georgian national, was arrested, Chronopolous said. The lorry is believed to have raised suspicion partly because it had no markings or livery.
Greece is in the midst of a resurgence of asylum seeker arrivals from Turkey.
More than 35,000 men, women and children are in Greek island camps where deplorable conditions are the subject of mounting concern and condemnation from human rights groups. Most of the asylum seekers are believed to want to reach other parts of Europe.