Four stowaways from Nigeria have been arrested in the UK after special forces stormed a cargo ship off the country’s coast.
The stowaways were said to have threatened staff on board and hijacked the vessel.
The 71,000-tonne Italian vessel, Grande Tema, reportedly left Lagos, on December 10.
Essex Police said the vessel was taken to the Port of Tilbury and the four men were arrested under the Immigration Act.
The ship arrived at the Port of Tilbury in the early hours of Saturday at just after 4.20am.
Its operator, Grimaldi Lines, had earlier reported that four stowaways armed with iron tubes had called for the crew to navigate closer to the coast.
Paul Kyprianou, the company’s spokesman, told Sky News: “The vessel was coming from Nigeria… They managed to escape from the cabin and started threatening the crew, requesting to have the vessel navigate very close to the coast.
“We understand they wanted to jump and reach the British coast.”
He added that the crew locked themselves in the bridge of the vessel after the migrants had picked up potentially harmful objects.
“They managed to get whatever they could find on the vessel… pieces of iron, tubes and things like that and this is what they used in order to threaten,” Kyprianou said.
The vessel had been travelling eastwards through the English Channel when the migrants were discovered on Friday morning.