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Friday, 3 August, 2001, 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK
Police find Eurostar stowaways
Eurostar at Waterloo
Eurostar has had problems with illegal immigrants
A group of 16 asylum seekers, including a three-year-old child, have been found underneath a Eurostar train in London.

Police were called to Waterloo station after passengers on the train from Paris heard a knocking sound in compartments underneath the coaches.

Officers found five women, two men and nine children, aged between three and 15, believed to be Romanian.

This is a problem and a challenge for every cross-Channel operator

They were seen by ambulance staff as they were suffering from dehydration.

Inspector Keith Fleetwood of British Transport Police said none of the asylum seekers needed hospital treatment.

He added that they were "in quite good condition considering what they have gone through".

The group was taken to a holding centre to be questioned by immigration officers.

The Eurostar, which reaches speeds of 180mph in France, arrived at Waterloo at 1113BST after travelling from Paris.

In March, a three-year-old girl was one of nine Romanian asylum seekers found under a Eurostar at Waterloo.

Security challenge

Eurostar subsequently tightened security and said this was successful in preventing asylum seekers boarding trains.

"Obviously we are going to have to look at this again. This is a problem and a challenge for every cross-Channel operator," said a Eurostar spokesman.

The compartments where the asylum seekers were found are around 3ft deep and house electrical and other equipment as well as having storage space.

Eurostar said its services were not delayed despite the incident even though some power was turned off for a short time.

An investigation was launched to establish how the group gained access to the compartments.

The BBC's Emma Simpson
"Passengers heard knocking sounds"
Chief Inspector Bob Kenwrick
"They were locked in"
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