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21 December 2018, 17:32 | Updated: 21 December 2018, 18:18
Essex police say they're currently dealing with what they're calling a 'complex incident' on board a cargo ship in the Thames Estuary.
An Essex Police statement said: "We continue to deal with a complex incident on board a vessel that is in the Thames Estuary close to the Essex and Kent borders.
"This follows a call relating to the safety of crew on board at around 9.15am today, Friday, December 21.
"We have received no reports that anyone has been harmed and don't believe they are at risk. We are not treating this as either a hostage, piracy or terror related incident.
"We are working closely with our partners to resolve this incident as quick as possible.
"We are not in a position to provide any details about who is on board at this stage."
Paul Kyprianou, a spokesman for Grimaldi Lines, believed to be the operator of the vessel, said: "We found four stowaways on the vessel. The vessel was coming from Nigeria and was bound to Tilbury and those four stowaways were in the cabin, and today they managed to escape from the cabin and they started threatening the crew, requesting the master of the vessel navigating very close to the coast.
"That request was probably because they wanted to jump and reach the British coast.
"The crew reacted and they locked themselves in the bridge of the vessel and so they are safe, we haven't had any injuries, so clashes between stowaways and crew members.
"The master is in continuous contact with the UK authorities, particularly with the Essex police and the coastguard. We are waiting to see what is going to happen, we expect authorities to intervene."
Pic @ Krispen Atkinson