Europe-bound migrants found hidden among glass bottles, toxic ash in Spain

Spanish authorities say they have found and rescued 41 migrants who tried to reach continental Europe from North Africa last week, some of them hiding inside a container of discarded glass bottles and a bag of toxic ash.

An officer of the Guardia Civil helps a man out from under glass bottles in a container in Melilla, Spain. Source: Associated Press/Guardia Civil

Among people found on Saturday trying to travel to Europe from the Spanish port of Melilla, an enclave in North Africa, four hid among bottles and other glass partially broken in pieces and with sharp edges that were destined for recycling, the Spanish Civil Guard said today.

A video released by the police also shows another incident in which an officer first finds a motionless leg sticking out of a large plastic bag containing ash from the city's incinerator, a material that is considered highly toxic.

When the agent starts removing the ash, the alleged stowaway seems to recover consciousness.

The port of Melilla, where trucks and containers embark on a trip to Spain that can take up to seven hours, is together with the nearby Ceuta enclave a target for many migrants trying to reach the European mainland. 

Some of them try to enter the fenced area of the harbour by swimming there or by hiding in vehicles, in some cases jumping on to them when they slow down or stop at the gates of the port.

The Civil Guard says that it found 11,700 people last year inside the Melilla port's security perimeter and that in 2021 so far, the figure has reached 1781 migrants.