Two people have been arrested and six migrants are in hospital after a major Border Force incident at Newhaven port yesterday.

Dozens of police officers, paramedics and Border Force officials descended on the port at around 10am after a group of migrants were found in the back of a freezer lorry that had travelled on a ferry from Dieppe, France.

Shocked passengers told how a ferry company worker used an axe to smash his way into the lorry after hearing desperate banging from inside.

The freed migrants were wrapped in foil blankets and were seen being stretchered away to hospital.

One French passenger, who was heading to Brighton with his family for a holiday, told The Argus the people inside the lorry were "lying on top of each other" and claimed that a "false wall inside the truck" hid them from view.

He said: "The place was very small and they were suffocating. It was arm's length wide.

"A guy from the ferry company said he went inside the garage and heard people banging from inside the lorry.

The Argus: Emergency services swarmed on the portEmergency services swarmed on the port (Image: Sussex News and Pictures)

“It was a small lorry, a refrigerated one. The guy opened it up with an axe. We saw people being taken away with oxygen masks on a trolley.

"It was very emotional to me and for people watching."

He also said that passengers were taken off the ferry but had to wait at the port for two hours.

"We only found out when we arrived. The company have been very kind with us but they seemed very shocked too," he said.

Sussex Police confirmed six people were taken to hospital and two others were arrested.

"We supported Border Force, who are the leading agency, and other emergency services after a boat carrying a number of people arrived on Newhaven beach,” said a spokesman for the force.

The Argus: The ferry travelled from Dieppe to NewhavenThe ferry travelled from Dieppe to Newhaven (Image: Sussex News and Pictures)

"A man has been arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry to the UK and a second man has been arrested for illegally entering the UK.

"The ambulance service has taken six further people to hospital for treatment."

It was initially feared the people in the refrigerated lorry had died after witnesses reported seeing body bags being taken off the ferry.

However, The Argus can confirm the people were all found alive.

Lewes MP Maria Caulfield, whose office overlooks the ferry port, said yesterday afternoon: “Devastating news for us here in Newhaven.

The Argus: Cars were seen driving onto the ferry at around 2pmCars were seen driving onto the ferry at around 2pm (Image: Sussex News and Pictures)

“There has been activity all morning. Huge thanks to Border Force, the port officials and emergency services. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected.”

Martin Sinnock, 70, whose home overlooks the entrance to Newhaven Harbour, said he saw "a lot of activity" and huge emergency response, including a helicopter landing on the quayside shortly after the ferry arrived.

He said he was "deeply sad" to hear migrants were inside the vehicle.

A spokesman for the South East Coast Ambulance Service said: “We were called at 9.40am to an incident at Newhaven Ferry Port.

"A range of ambulance resources attended, including our HART team, alongside other emergency service partners.”

Cars were seen boarding the ferry at around 2pm as the service back to Dieppe resumed.

A spokesman for ferry operator DFDS said: "We can confirm that migrants were found on board Seven Sisters.

"Immediate medical attention was provided and as per normal procedure, relevant authorities were contacted. From there on our crew followed their instructions."