A LORRY load of migrants were found huddled together almost 200 MILES from the main cross-Channel ports.
Police including armed officers swarmed to the scene after getting a call from startled driver of the refrigerated vehicle.
He had pulled into a service area off the M4 outside Chippenham, Wiltshire, and discovered the group of 23 shivering in the back.
The immigrants were given thermal blankets to keep warm as they waited to be taken to hospitals in Swindon and Southmead, Bristol.
A total of 14 police vehicles and seven ambulances attended the incident yesterday afternoon.
The immigrants were found in the back of a lorry owned by international shipping company Leatrans, based at Limerick City in Ireland.
Their website says: "There are no limits on the type of cargo traffic we can handle."
Leatrans and Chippenham Pit Stop have been approached for comment.
The ambulance service said that 23 freezing people who all appeared to be adults were found hiding in the back of the refrigerated lorry.
A spokeswoman for the South West Ambulance Service said: "They were generally unwell, with injuries commensurate with being very cold.
"There were 23 patients, all believed to be adults."
Seven of them were taken to Great Western Hospital in Swindon, one was taken to Southmead Hospital in Bristol and three were taken to the Royal United Hospital in Bath.
The remaining 12 who did not need hospital treatment were handed over to police.
The ambulance service sent one rapid response vehicle, five ambulances, one patient transporter vehicle, and two GPs to the scene after they were called just before 5pm.
A GP from the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity also helped with the assessment of patients at the Chippenham Pit Stop on the A350 near Kington St Michael.
Police declared the situation an emergency after discovering the illegal cargo.