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Women found in lorry in France face deportation

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    1 day ago

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Four of six women rescued from the back of a lorry in France on Wednesday must leave the country within 30 days, a French public prosecutor said.

The four Vietnamese and two Iraqi women were found by police after getting into the lorry, which they believed was heading for the UK.

One of the women spoke from inside the vehicle to a BBC journalist, who then contacted French police.

It is unclear which of the four women are to be deported.

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The other two have been authorised to stay in France pending asylum requests, a statement from the prosecutor said.

The women got into the lorry thinking the Irish-registered vehicle would likely transport them to England, Laetitia Francart, public prosecutor at the judicial court of Villefranche-sur-Saône said.

In fact, the lorry was delivering a shipment of bananas to Dunkirk and would then be heading to Italy.

When the women – thought to be migrants – noticed that the direction of the lorry had changed by checking their phone locations, they started to panic.

Struggling to breathe, one of the women managed to contact a BBC journalist and told them about their situation. Khue Luu was then able to alert French authorities.

Meanwhile, the driver of the lorry had also grown to suspect that there might be people inside the trailer, having heard what sounded like voices.

The driver then stopped in a lay-by and called the police, the prosecutor said.

French authorities eventually matched up the reports to the lorry, and upon investigating the vehicle found the six women inside the refrigerated trailer.

The temperature was 6C (42F) when it was opened, the prosecutor said, but all the women were reported to be in good health.

While the driver was initially arrested upon the discovery of the women inside, the prosecutor said he was not under suspicion of any crime.

‘Are you in Europe? Please help’

BBC journalist Khue B Luu received a phone call from an unknown person on Wednesday, asking for “urgent” help.

Ms Luu was able to make contact with someone inside the vehicle who sent messages and videos of their surroundings, showing a dark compartment and stacks of boxes containing fruit.

After gathering as much information as possible, the journalist then contacted colleagues from BBC News and reporters living in France, who were able to contact police.

In later texts, the situation inside the lorry appeared to have deteriorated:

“We’re so suffocated,” one woman wrote.

Eventually, the news came that French police in the Rhone region had located the vehicle and the women were safe.

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