A GANG of illegal immigrants were pursued across Basildon after they were spotted fleeing from the back of a lorry.

The four men, believed to be from Afghanistan, were seen clambering out of the 40ft trailer in Miles Gray Road yesterday morning.

Police cars and the force helicopter were scrambled to find the men, following a call from a member of the public.

Police captured two of the stowaways quickly and two more were seized a short while later, after they were found heading towards Burger King, on the Pipps Hill Industrial Estate.

The men leapt out after the lorry pulled up at freight-forwarding firm Alpi UK, based in the street.

Despite police making arrests, it is feared more men may be on the loose as they were able to avoid detection by cutting a hole in the roof of the lorry trailer to get in and out.

Charlie Mann, warehouse manager at Alpi UK, said: “We called the police as soon as they escaped. As far as I understand they got in to the trailer by cutting a hole through the roof, with what, we are unsure.

“We take all reasonable security measures, but this was something we didn’t expect. A lot of freight merchants are victims of occurrences like this and we have a very good record.

“All I can say is I am glad they have been rounded up and we will follow it up internally.

“This isn’t the first time I’ve seen something like this happen, but it’s been quite a while.”

Police praised the person who alerted the authorities.

Essex Police have had recent success in stopping illegal immigrants who have made it into the country.

In June, officers found a group of 12 illegal immigrants from Vietnam, Iran and Iraq in the back of a lorry parked at the West Thurrock service station, just off the M25.

Anyone with information about the most recent incident can contact Basildon police on 101.